Whelan’s Ones To Watch 2016 – Thursday Review

Whelan's Ones To Watch 2016 - Thursday Review

The Ones To Watch festival in Whelan’s has become the go-to event for what’s new in the Irish music scene. As usual, this year threw up a few highlights, with a number of acts on show that will be worth keeping an eye on in the coming months.

Kicking things off this year was the powerful voice of Naoise Roo, who got the evening off to the perfect start. Roo released her debut album Lilith last year and he easygoing, endearing stage presence coupled with her phenomenal vocal ability, that’s part smoky jazz singer, part PJ Harevy, made this the perfect gig to get the night underway. She’s versatile too, with the storming Pixies thunder of ‘Whore’ sitting comfortably with quieter numbers, such as ‘For You’, which stopped the crowd in its tracks – Not even a key could be heard jingled during Roo’s breathtaking rendition of that one!

Upstairs, Wake America experienced a few technical gremlins during their set but they made up for it with their glorious closing track ‘Silly Boy’. Full of dirty riffs and subtle electronic embellishments, it’s a stunning way to end their set and while it was clear to see they were a little disappointed with how the earlier part of their set went, they should still be happy with their night’s work as there was a lot to like.

Niamh Crowther

Niamh Crowther introduced the crowd to her new keyboard Deirbhle during her set downstairs. Deirbhle was making her live debut and sounded fantastic during Crowther’s rendition of the London Grammar song ‘Strong’. Deirbhle and an unnamed guitar were Crowther’s only accompaniment and she confidently switched between the two during a set of well crafted tunes.

See also: Whelan’s Ones To Watch – Thursday Photos

After the nice, gentle opening to the evening, things took a rockier edge from then on. Half of Me delivered a set of towering, riff heavy rock that had echoes of the likes of Royal Blood but with more falsetto. They started off slowly but won over the crowd from the mid-point of their set onward and were most impressive.


M(h)aol were next to deliver the noise in the upstairs venue. Making great use feedback on some seriously growling bass lines, the four-piece delivered a set of spiky, urgent punk songs. Singer Roisin Nic Ghearailt is an engaging presence and delivers her vocals in a Patti-Smith-with-a-slight-Dublin twang style and it’s refreshing to hear a band that really seem to have something interesting to say. They’ve already made their way onto the RTE News in their short lifespan and we can expect to hear a lot more from M(h)aol in the near future.

See also: Whelan’s Ones To Watch – Thursday Photos

The Shaker Hymn were also very impressive, delivering a rocky and rousing set before Travis Oaks delivered a set of swirling Therapy? infused goodness. Travis Oaks have been making waves for a while and it’s easy to see why on this performance – delivering a most impressive, confident set.

Once again, Whelan’s delivered the goods on the first night of Ones To Watch, with a great line-up of acts. The mix of styles and genres on show were most impressive and on this showing, Irish music is in good hands.


Mark O'Brien

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