Strand of Oaks at Whelan’s – Review

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It’s fair to say that Timothy Showalter doesn’t look like your average singer-songwriter. Arriving on stage dressed all in black with long hair, beard and tattoos on show, Showalter looks like a lost member of Metallica. To top off the metal look, he was sipping a large glass of whiskey although this was purely medicinal. In spite of a strep throat and a 140 degree temperature, Showalter and his cohorts delivered a masterful set that drew heavily on his latest album, the astonishing ‘Heal’.

Kicking things off with ‘Satellite Moon’, it was immediately apparent that keys would be to the fore during this set, with Eliza Hardy Jones delivering some dreamy licks all evening. This contrasted nicely with Showalter’s guitar playing, some of which was reminiscent of Dave Gilmour at his finest. He seemed genuinely pleased to be playing in Ireland for the first time in 10 years and his between-song banter was highly entertaining – at one stage even wondering aloud whether he was hallucinating due to his high temperature.

Not that he let his illness get in the way of delivering a feverish performance that was full of highlights. The rousing intro of ‘Goshen 97’ was the first song to get the crowd really moving and featured some stunning harmonies from Showalter and Hardy Jones. It was followed by a rousing call to arms of “This is a fucking Friday, this what I was waiting for,” from Showalter before the band launched into the pounding, tribal bass and drums of ‘For Me’ that went down a storm with the Whelan’s punters.

‘JM’ was another stand out track that featured screeching solos in an epic, extended coda before things were quietened down a bit with Showalter performing ‘Sister Evangeline’ on his own, growling out the lyrics in spite of that strep throat. ‘Woke Up to the Light’ also received the stripped down treatment before the rest of the band reemerged towards the end of the song to bring it to a rousing climax. At this stage the crowd were completely entranced and it was a love that went both ways, with Showalter declaring that he wanted to “rent a big bus and take every single one of you.” As nice as that sounds, it may prove to be a bit costly!

What a shame though, as there were many in the crowd who would love to join the tour and travel with Showalter. He comes across as a funny and pleasant guy, in spite of the violent treatment he doled out to his guitar during the encore song ‘Mirage’. That was just all part of the intense performance though and he was happy to come straight off the stage, mingle with fans and pose for photos. He was still there hours later, dancing on the dance floor and chatting away to people. That whiskey must have really done the trick.

 

Mark O'Brien

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