Ryley Walker – Whelans, May 2nd 2016 – Live Review by Killian Laher
Bank Holiday Mondays are a strange night to go out. There’s a sense of “the day after the night before”, as if most people are a little bruised in one way or another from the weekend. As the rather mellow opening act Fuzzy Hell finished her set, the venue gradually filled. For those who made in time to see Brigid Mae Power’s folky set, they also got Peter Broderick thrown in on drums and guitar, playing selections from her forthcoming album along with more traditional material such as Plantxy’s As I Roved Out and the traditional ballad My Lagan Love played on accordion.
Ryley Walker has been attracting a lot of attention with his deft guitar skills and channelling of the likes of Tim Buckley, Nick Drake and John Martyn. Joined by a Norwegian drummer and upright bassist, Walker was in flying form, stretching out songs like Primrose Green and The Roundabout to incorporate dizzying guitar work, joyful yelping in between singing the praises of local kebab shop Zaytoon! The band created a rich, full sound, rounding out the mellow groove on tracks like The Great Undecided, which sped up and slowed down, ebbing and flowing like musical tides. But it was his busier work-outs most of the crowd came for and the band delivered on Summer Dress, coming close to complete self-indulgence but also providing thrilling slices of Walker’s seriously talented guitar work ably backed by the bow-playing upright bassist and some quirky percussion, all of which exploded into a crescendo.
He concluded the set with a soulful version of Van Morrison’s Fair Play which was, surprisingly, one of the more understated moments of the night. Ryley Walker is cocky and arrogant, but these qualities are backed up with undoubted talent, and I suspect he’ll need a bigger venue on his next visit.