Morley Folk Club met for the third time last week. Sadly, the £8 admission put too many off and there were only twenty in the room. Those that did come were in for a big treat- the much underrated Irish balladeer Kieran Halpin. Kieran has a pronounced Dublin accent and a voice like flint. He looks unassuming and doesn’t radiate the vibes of a rock star- until he starts to sing his wonderfully simple yet equally loqacious stories. They are slightly verging on maudlin on occasions but all are thoughtful and finely crafted, with occasionally exquisite chord changes.
He uses a PA and acoustic guitar with pickups (and with much Capo work) turned up quite loud which emphasises the steel in his voice without having to belt it out. I noticed that his PA was from an outfit called “Aer” with some additional writing below the logo, I went and checked in the interval that it didn’t say Lingus! (It didn’t). occasionally, however, a slight but distracting speaker rattle detracted slightly from the performance when he drove it a shade too hard. I was interested to notice that he had a floor pedal for tuning that muted & lit up when he needed to twizzle his machine heads (which seems to be a lot in the Regency Room).
He was happy to let 12 year old Dylan use his gear (to sing an anti-Government protest song!) and went to great lengths to offer the youngster helpful advice during the break.
Kieran has released a remarkable nineteen CDs (& a DVD), many of which are now out of print and collectors items.I succombed to a couple on the strength of his first set and I am enjoying them in the car on my commute. I’ve also noticed that they are comfortably in my limited range so I’ll have to train up my tame backline guitarist for future singers nights.
Two songs particularly struck me as strikingly good that night. I tracked down the first online, from the Fylde Folk Festival last year. It is called the old simplicity and tells the story of two old men in a Dublin Pub reminiscing about their lives.
If you like it, it is on his 1992 album called Akoustik, not on iTunes yet but available as a regular CD for a Tenner.
I will certainly be keeping an eye out for Kieran’s return to the area and he gets the Shades recommendation seal of approval as he is well worth seeing. (Gig list here).