Ryley Walker – The Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire – Review
by Killian Laher
As part of the Dún Laoghaire Folk Festival 2022
One of the more interesting American artists of recent years, Ryley Walker made a welcome return to Ireland as part of the Dun Laoghaire Folk Festival. Support came from Welsh guitarist Gwenifer Raymond who played a series of lengthy instrumentals on an amplified acoustic guitar. She appeared reluctant to be in the spotlight, admonishing the crowd – “don’t applaud that shit”. She finished her set with a rousing rendition of her own Hell For Certain. One to watch for sure, well on the way to file alongside the likes of Steve Gunn and Ryley Walker.
This was Ryley Walker’s first visit to Ireland for a number of years, he informed us he had come to Dun Laoghaire (pronounced perfectly) on the DART! Playing electric guitar, he was accompanied on bass by Andrew Young and drums and all manner of random percussion by Ryan Jewell. Opening with Striking Down Your Big Premiere, it’s a song that epitomises Walker’s approach these days. Gone is the folkster of old, the songs were stretched out with long build-ups and equally fascinating and maddening left turns midsong. Walker seems to have so many ideas to cram into each song! While he leaned mainly on more recent material, he found time to reach back to older material with The Halfwit In Me and a rousing finale of The Roundabout. For the riff heavy Telluride Speed Walker seemed to be conjuring up almost Sonic Youth-like crazed guitar attacks.
The venue lent itself very well to the trio’s sound, though the genteel surroundings meant crowd interaction was at a minimum. The set was very jam-heavy, trying the patience at times but the trio stopped short of full-on self-indulgence, and Ryley Walker’s bright, bubbly personality kept spirits high, giving his customary shoutout to Zaytoon! While the set was quite overblown at times, there was time for understatement on a sensitive version of Shiva With Dustpan, punctuated by occasional whoops from Walker. The set was in part genius but quite weird at times, definitely not for the uninitiated. But it’s hard not to admire a performer who has resisted going in the obvious direction, intent on following his muse, wherever that takes him.
Categories: Gig Reviews, Gigs, Header, Music
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