Hermitage Green at The Academy – Review & Photos
Hermitage Green at The Academy, Dublin – 17th April 2014
Holy Thursday saw The Academy hosting Limerick’s imposably-handsome acoustic folk-rock band Hermitage Green, for one of the first stops of their nationwide Spring tour. A band undoubtedly on the ascent, having toured the country and abroad relentlessly over the past couple of years and with a studio album due to be released within the next year to accompany 2012’s ‘The Gathering’ EP and last year’s live album recorded in Whelan’s. Hermitage Green are a band renowned for their energetic performances and pitch-perfect group harmonies, and the excitement before the show is palpable.
Opening tracks ‘Gibson’ and the enchanting, Spanish-infused ‘Aisling’, are well-received following a brief instrumental piece. They seem a band on good form, the clarity of Dan Murphy’s vocal cutting cleaving with ease through the backing rhythm section of Barry Murphy’s bass and percussionists Dermot Sheedy and Darragh Graham. They follow up with the nostalgic ‘Scars’, the pick of the four or five new tracks they played on night.
The music is part-rousing, part-delicate, half-coarse and half-sweet, but for the latter, the crowd can be a bit unforgiving, with the din of conversation putting up a decent challenge against the quieter numbers. At times it’s perhaps understandable, as some of are unmemorable, but the band, to their credit, endure without bitterness or complaint. One of the better attempts at a quieter number is a gorgeous cover of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’, featuring only four harmonising voices and a minimalist beat from Sheedy.
Among the highlights of the set is a segment towards the end, following a pleasant cover of Florence and the Machine’s ‘Cosmic Love’. Percussionists Graham and Sheedy remain onstage alone, and combine to create a fantastic rhythmic piece, including a marvelous bodhrán solo from Sheedy, subsequently matched by Graham’s djembe. But unfortunately this heralds the final section of their set, and after a gravelly blues number I didn’t catch the name of, they walk offstage for the encore ritual. The first song of it is a bit out of left field, a cover of ‘I Just Want to Make Love to You’, featuring a show-stealingly impressive vocal performance by support act Síomha Brock, and of course the impossible-to-dislike ‘Golden Rule’ to close.
They walk offstage a band on an upswing: well-loved in their own country, and gaining ground overseas. They’re a likeable and talented group of lads, and are the kind of band that we should be proud as a nation to be exporting. The show they’ve created is a fascinating one, and it is sure to hold anyone’s attention for its length. As it stands, they haven’t managed to put together enough quality songs just yet to really blow anybody away, but I don’t hesitate to say they’re on their way there.
Review by Conor Cosgrave
Photos by Tudor Marian