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Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 3 evening roundup (part 2)

 
By on Thursday, 20th October 2016 at 3:00 pm
 

To read the first half of my Saturday evening at Hard Working Class Heroes, follow this link. To have at your fingertips the entire HWCH 2016 archive here on TGTF, go here.

Tiz McNamara (Dublin via Cork) @ Tengu Downstairs

Tiz McNamara HWCH 2016 2

Joined by his bandmates from his hometown of Cork, Tiz McNamara built on the strength of his relaxed afternoon show at Urban Picnic with his evening performance. Dressed in a flowy white shirt (channeling Jesus, a higher power or Sting, perhaps?), he looked like he could have been performing in the Caribbean. But the subject matter of his songs are on a more everyman level. Admittedly, some of his songs were of the more melancholic, sad variety. But they’re a joy to hear in McNamara’s voice, in the way that sometimes you want to hear a song that will break your heart, because your heart’s been broken before and yet somehow, you’ve survived.

Despite the two being probably around the same age, McNamara strikes me as a more grown-up version of Lewis Watson: clearly lovely, lovable and writing songs that are entirely relatable. ‘I Hope You Know’ was a standout of both his acoustic afternoon and with band evening sets and showed great potential as a breakout singer/songwriter.

Elm (Dublin) @ Workman’s Club

Elm HWCH 2016 2

Following their stripped-back performance at the HWCH box office at Filmbase Saturday afternoon, I was excited to see the contrast to Elm’s full five-piece band show that night at the Workman’s Club. They didn’t disappoint me, or anyone else at the club for that matter. They have a loud and large following already built up in Dublin; I felt squished like a sardine down the front for the band to start. Cat-calling for specific members of the band even before they took the stage and then while they were actually on the stage indicated without a doubt that their fans already have strongly associated each of their band members’ individual personalities, as if they were the Beatles or One Direction. I was floored. It feels like Elm have already outgrown an emerging music festival like this and whenever they’re ready to release a debut album, they’ve got legions of fans in Ireland chomping at the bit to buy it.

As for their performance, the band were tight, feeding off the energy of their excited fans. Their self-described “alternative baroque pop”, the instrumentation full of pomp, yet not overwhelming to frontman Dylan Walsh’s powerful vocal delivery, is a winner. Their unique sound is definitely something different to offer the often boring mainstream and I can see both UK and U.S. audiences warming up to their tunes.

Participant (Dublin) @ Tengu Downstairs

Participant HWCH 2016

Steven Tiernan and his ambient project Participant ended my Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 on a rather unusual note. Tiernan himself commented after the festival that no live set he’s done as Participant is ever repeated, as he likes to experiment with what he’s playing with onstage, the songs he’ll play, the loops and samples used, even the song arrangements. He was creating his live sound with a friend performing with him, and to go with a voiceover of a mindfulness seminar. Not exactly what you might expect or want at a Saturday night show, but it seems rather appropriate for my state of mind and what I took from this music festival as a whole.

You’re never going to be able to predict what gems you’ll uncover at Hard Working Class Heroes, but there’s so much to discover here over the 3 days, whether you want to dance, to be touched emotionally, to be challenged, to feel blissfully chill. Open your ears, heart and mind, and you’re sure to find an act (or three) to fall in love with.

 

Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 3 afternoon roundup (part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 19th October 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

I have no idea how I woke up with no hangover whatsoever Saturday morning at Hard Working Class Heroes. Guess I ordered quality booze? By the way, many thanks to the fine folks at the Woollen Mills for a raspberry whiskey sour. With what else but Jameson’s?

Ella Naseeb (Dublin) @ Winding Stair Bookshop

Ella Naseeb HWCH 2016

Maybe this emerging music festival in Dublin was just the ticket to help me distinguish and indeed, appreciate better the solo singer/songwriter and in a way that Carrie’s ear already can do. It was back in the saddle again for me on the third and final day of Hard Working Class Heroes In the City, this time starting at the Winding Stair bookshop to watch BIMM Dublin student Ella Naseeb. Naseeb’s voice has the advantage of avoiding the usual too sweet-sounding pitch of female voices, instead bridging the distance between those singers and, say, a Stevie Nicks or Natalie Merchant. Singing about ‘Real Life’ might be too serious for major labels but such a song coming from someone so young shows surprising maturity.

Paul Creane (Wexford) @ Irish Design Shop

Paul Creane HWCH 2016

Then it was off to the Irish Design Shop for a brief peek and listen to Paul Creane’s set. Reminding me of our former head photographer Martin and Steve Mason too somewhat with his facial hair, the self-described alt-country artist looked at home stood with his guitar, his voice reverberating off the walls of the small shop. With vocals gruff yet powerful, it isn’t too hard to imagine Creane writing a mainstream anthem one day. As the frontman of Paul Creane and the Changing Band, he’s released two albums over the last 5 years to much acclaim. A solo album ‘One Trick Blue’ is purported on the way, which should perk up ears not just in Ireland but to country and folk fans beyond.

Tiz McNamara (Dublin via Cork) @ Urban Picnic

Tiz McNamara HWCH 2016

If there was someone at Hard Working Class Heroes with the most compelling life story (at least of those I managed to hear), Tiz McNamara’s would be it. Originally from Cork but now living in Dublin to truly make a go of the music business. Prior to this move, McNamara studied at LIPA with the intention of becoming a professional drummer, but following an accident with a keyboard (long story short: the keyboard won), he almost got his foot amputated after the fateful incident. As he described it with a sigh at his evening show later that night at Tengu Downstairs, it was his Irish mammy who convinced the doctors in Liverpool to try and save his foot instead of completely writing it off.

Unable to use a kick drum anymore, he was given an ultimatum by LIPA: either withdraw from his studies or take up a new instrument. So McNamara took up guitar. While I realise this isn’t like having cancer or something life-threatening, it has obviously affected the way he approaches life and his songwriting, adding a tinge of the fatalistic and melancholy to his music.

 
 
 

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