MURPHY’S LIVE SEMI-FINALS 2008 – BRAVADO Vs Stagger Lee + CATHY DAVEY
Whelan’s was packed to the rafters as it hosted the ’Murphy’s Live 2008’ semi finals. Even after the doors had been opened there was still a queue of people stretching back to the front of the pub. The heat inside the venue was so heavy you could barely move without breaking sweat. The tickets hadn’t lied about having to be inside early.
Two bands were on hand to compete against each other for a place in the final round of the competition. ’Stagger Lee’ an incredibly talented and professional quartet with a sound that fuses ’PJ Harvey, Garbage and Sonic Youth’ and ’Bravado’ a fresh young band who are proving themselves with every performance they give. On first sight it’s easy to be pessimistic due to their age but once they play you can hear great potential in their future. Also on the bill, as special guest headliner, is the Award winning and extremely talented and energetic ’Cathy Davey’ who won the award for ’Best Irish Female’ and was nominated in the ’Best Irish Album’ category for her second studio output ’Tales of Silversleeve’ at last years Meteor’s.
First up was ’Stagger Lee’ who did everything in their power to get the crowd energetic from the word go. They had already upped their promotion by providing free badges at the door for all in attendance and were also selling promotional T-shirts. Everything about Stagger’s performance was tight, despite a couple of instances involving high heels and microphone cables; they had their set down to a T, delivering a nice mixture of punk esque rock songs and slower relaxed material. Donna McCabe (vocals) voice gave the songs a ’PJ Harvey, Siouxsie Sioux, Shirley Mason’ feel and the music had an overall 90’s grunge sound about it with some crunchy Bass lines. Tracks such as ’Between Control Confusion, Misery River and their debut single ’Bad shoes’ serve as a taste of thing’s to come when they release their next EP.
’Bravado’ came on second and so did their fans. One thing about being in one of these competitions, ensure your friends, family and fans are there on the night to cheer you on. The lads were a little slower to relax into their set, which I’m sure was on account of the massive crowd in front of them and their inexperience with shows this size, however lead singer Brian Whittington didn’t seem phased in the slightest as he belted into tracks from their first EP including Running, Artificial AngelsOne Day and more recent material like ’Any Other Way, Take your Pick and Too Tired to Sleep’ and
This was the second time I have seen Bravado and they have grown enormously since the quarter finals. On first sight of Stager Lee the thought passed my mind that Bravado were now out of their depth, however they once again surprised me and I’m sure many others. The judges have a very tough decision in front of them and no matter who gets through to the finals; both bands have proven they’ve got what it takes.
As the judges reconvened on the balcony to discuss Bravado and Stager Lee’s performances, Cathy Davey came on stage to a rapturous cheer. Cathy’s recent residency shows around the country, awards and recent singles are really paying off and this could be one of the last chances to see her, not only for free, but in a venue as intimate as Whelan’s. She is set to play the Olympia in June and hopefully, she will follow in the footsteps of Damien Rice, Bell X1, Glen Hansard and Paddy Casey to international acclaim and stardom.
Although this wasn’t Cathy’s night, she preformed with the same grace, power and energy she always does. Opening with ’Mr Kill’ from her new album, she played a fantastic set which included old favorites such as Swing It, Yak Yak’ and new material from ’Tales of Silversleeve’ such as ’Reuben, Sing for your Supper, Collector’ and ’Moving’ which blended perfectly with her debut album material.
Mouth pressed firmly into the microphone, covered in sweat (like every one else in the venue), Cathy closed the night with a single encore and proceeded straight to the fresh cold air awaiting us all outside. Another hugely enjoyable Murphy’s Live evening of music and certainly a reason to start applying for tickets to the final as your guaranteed at least one incredible talent to go through from tonight.