In The Willows at Whelan’s – Review and Photos

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In the Willows @ Whelan’s – Friday 9th August 2013

In the Willows, a popular act from Co. Waterford, played upstairs in Whelan’s on Friday 9th Aug 2013, as part of their ‘Rowing Boats’ single release tour of Irish bars. They have been receiving rave reviews and of course, anyone would be curious to hear how this band would veer from recorded sound to a live venue. Lights dimmed, the curtains were drawn and young, singer songwriter Cillian Jacob stepped up to play in support.

See also: Photos from Cilian Jacob’s set.

Cillian explained to us that he had been ill and didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for his act. He did his best to overcome this and performed a number of his own songs. On the hot water and honey, he sang a song that gathered a lot of attention on YouTube called “Where’s He Go”, which had a “Jose Gonzalez” feel to it and some covers namely “Rocky Raccoon” by The Beatles at the end was well received by the small audience. Cillian is young and his voice needs time to become more rounded, but overall his confidence will take him places.

As soon as the six piece folk acts “In the Willows” took to the stage, they commanded the room to move to the front of the stage – when acts do this, it is admirable and such a good sign of confidence. Within seconds the room suddenly felt jam packed and they moved onto their first tune “Gauged”. Singing “Take my hand, we’ll go straight through”, all together now! Everything on sound was on form, but Tara on support vocals was rather overpowering and “Glee” in style resembling “Lea Michelle”. Her vocal in many places overpowered the authentic beats and wearing a white lace top with a black bra, made me feel uncomfortable and in the wrong bar.
After “Cage”, the one about the conversation in the beer garden of “Copper Face Jacks”, things began to dip with that the beer glasses smashed at the back of the room and the crowd got rowdier. Moving on through “Trying”, “Instant History” and “Vantage Point” it was clear that the band are a more of a commercial act than anticipated, and not really striking the right “folk” vein, that I had expected. Where were the “atmospheric harmonies” we had been promised? That said the crowd of friends and followers seemed to admire the band that have a decidedly “The Corrs” edge and in fairness the lady on vocals her voice gradually softened over the night for “Le Danse”, “Sirens” and “London”.

“In the Willows” disappointed me, I had been expecting something completely different, they just didn’t have the authentic and original vibe that I had been hoping for on the night. They ended the night with their new single “Rowing Boats” to a huge cheer from their loyal crowd of followers.

My comments aside “In the Willows” will be popular with those who are looking for a commercial pop-folk band to listen to with catchy, radio friendly lyrics. They’re not to my taste, but if Irish pop-folk like “The Corrs” is your thing, go get lost in “In the Willows” forest sounds.

Review by Áine Byrne

Photos by Shaun Neary


Lucy Ivan

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