A night of tunefulness at Wexford Arts Centre
THERE was more than a dash of magic to Liam Merriman’s gig at the Wexford Arts Centre with his impressive bag of tuneful tracks, mostly from his recentlyreleased sixth album Acoustic Rivers. All were delivered with his assured melodic vocal style and backed by the tasty interplay of his guitar with that of Bill Stuart. Stuart is a serious new find, his dexterous fingerplay often drawing magical fills from his fretboard, while also adding his vocal harmonies in support of Merriman for a match made in musical heaven.
The impeccable opener ‘It Could Be So Good’ laid down a standard for a set that included ‘Mizzy Mizzy’, a jaunty song about busking, while there’s a clever cyclical logic to ‘Girl On A Train’. ‘Miss You’ has the ghost of Tir na nOg about it, and ‘The Bicycle Song’, complete with an outburst of whistling from Merriman, has a cheery outdoor feel. Inspired by his boyhood holidays in Kilmore Quay, the instrumental ‘Summer and The Boy’ neatly marries two trad tunes, and their instrumental take on Jimmy MacCarthy’s ‘Bright Blue Rose’ lets new light into a familiar work.
The duo then gave the stage to Jody McStravick who was visiting Ireland from his domicile in France, and he brought with him a mix of original songs and covers and one in French (which he might actually have given us more of ). His covers included fine interpretations of ‘Wonderful Baby’ by Don McLean, Shay Healy’s ‘Just Another Year’ and the Louis Armstrong hit ‘Wonderful World’. McStravick has a warm voice which he also applied to some of his own songs, many of which are inspired by real life. ‘Talking’ is about just that, and his ‘Paris Blue’ is a classy evocation of that city and a perfect fit for his forceful but flexible voice. ‘True Love’ was inspired by an old movie, and he added tasty guitar fills to ‘London’ too.
As an encore, all three joined forces for a relaxed sing-song that the Wexford Arts Centre audience lapped up, ranging from David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ to ‘Paul Simon’s ‘Song For America’. It was a suitable way to end a night that had tunefulness all over it.