John Spillane at Notes
Reviewer’s rating: 4/5
Much-loved Cork man John Spillane, with guitar in tow, made it to Australia recently for a few intimate gigs in Melbourne and Sydney. Notes in Newtown played host to Spillane for one of his Sydney gigs. I was lucky enough to get a ticket.
With a couple of Meteor Awards and nine albums under his belt, the latest being A Rock To Cling To, his hit factory (as he calls it) has been churning out success after success.
Spillane has been described as a poet, a dreamer and a storyteller. Anyone who knows his music will know that there’s a story in every song. What you see is what you get and his down-to-earth Cork charm and humour is a quality which fans of his music find endearing.
Cork is the centre of the Universe for Spillane, so he says he wrote 25 songs about the place, “just to see if I was any good”. He jokes that he was up there in the top ten of the music charts in Ireland with the likes of Beyonce, with his album Irish Songs We Learned At School.
“Fair play to me. Another ball in the back of the net.” He’s not bragging. He’s just telling it how it is. “Do you get it?” he asks us frequently. And we do.
He opens the show with When You And I Were True and sings his way through favourites like There Was A Man, Princes Street (a street in Cork), The Mad Woman of Cork and Magic Nights in the Lobby Bar (a Cork pub) before he closes the first part of the gig with The Only One for Me, a beautiful ballad. The audience love You’re the Only One For Me, another ballad, and A Rock to Cling to.
Next is Passage West, (you know, where the Ferry Arms is, you get it?), a slow ballad about setting up a sweet love nest on the banks of Passage West.
The Dunnes Stores Girl was up next, followed by a fantastic medley of all those Irish songs we learned at school, which Spillane released in two albums, being a passionate advocate for the Irish language. We all sang along to Oro Se Do Bheatha Abhaile and other songs I hadn’t heard in years, trying to resurrect our classroom Irish.
After shouts for more and much feet stamping, Spillane finished up the evening with Hey Dreamer from his album of the same name.
John Spillane’s honesty is refreshing, his music enthralling and fair play to him. Another ball in the back of the net.