One Horse Pony at Whelan’s – Review
One Horse Pony at Whelan’s – June 7th
Don’t let the name fool you, this lively foursome the most impressive range I had seen from a live band in quite a while. An interesting mix of vocals, guitar, harmonica, bodhrán and low whistle, with its members ranging from Cork, Poland, and France – the band has found a way to mingle all these cultural influences into a bluesy/jazz style that is just a charm to listen to. The only thing that’s more impressive than their wide-ranging geographical basis is their start, beginning as a house band in the famous Franciscan Well Brew pub in Cork, One Horse Pony have forged a reputation for themselves on the international blue dance circuit (bet you didn’t even know that was a circuit, eh?).
‘Blue When I Go’ was OHP’s first full-length album, comprising of eleven original songs and a dash of Robert Johnson, just to add a little extra spice. Not satisfied with resting upon the laurels of an album release, the boys set about building upon their talents and enhancing their unique sound by playing in some of the most renowned music venues in Ireland, including De Barra’s of Clonakilty, The Crane Lane Theatre in Cork City, and Whelan’s in Dublin. Impressively, since the album release, the band has been touring with it, whilst still maintaining a weekly residency in the Franciscan Well and a monthly residency in Whelan’s.
Their music proved to be an interesting spectrum of jazz, rockabilly, and foot-stomping rhythms, and the rare tinge of slowed-down, classic blues melancholy. Their ability to put their own stamp upon the well-worn genre of jazz is clear in their track, ‘Hen Gone’, it has this sort of acapella gospel feel to it, like something you’d find in the deep south of America. Yet just as charming slowness of this track has worked its magic, they show their own variable abilities – the track, ‘Blue When I Go’, has this electrifying quality to it. It’s a song that demonstrates that OHP have spent their time on the road honing their vocals and harmony as a band. The way they comfortably play of each other’s musicality and personalities is evident from the set I saw in Whelan’s on Saturday. They have a rare and charming love of the live performances, that much is clear, I could only watch with vague amusement as one member spent twenty minutes trying to decide whether the sound was perfect. You can say a lot about them about as musicians (all good things, naturally) but their dedication to their performance is strikingly evident. Moreover, it is always delightful to see a band that engages with their audience in such a fresh manner, calling upon their audience to dance, clap, and sing-along, interaction with the crowd never hindered them, it fuelled them.
Their impressive set on Saturday had the entire audience to the very fore of Whelan’s in order to get a glimpse at a band that was able to take songs from Tom Waits and Ray Charles, and make them their own. Their version of ‘Potato Patch’ by Jimmy ‘Boogie’ McCain is officially my favourite version of that song – the vocals on that track were simply amazing. However, if you really want to see how amazing One Horse Pony is, I strongly advise you to check them out in Whelan’s on the 28th of June. It’s a show that can’t be missed (stay for the encore, the title alone killed me with delight). Or, give them an aul’ like on the Facebook!
Review by Elaine McDonald