Review: Fionn Regan, Vicar Street, Dublin
FIONN Regan looked set to emulate David Gray and make the step up to arena stardom when his debut 'The End of History' was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Music Prize.
But the Bray strummer spent too long traipsing around the US, where he had become a cult figure on the back of having a track on TV show 'Grey's Anatomy', and then fell out with the producer of his second album, Ethan Johns.
At Vicar Street, it's clear his post-Mercury momentum has evaporated and that his appeal has grown more 'selective' -- the top balcony is curtained off and the downstairs area not quite full. Still, Regan doesn't seem fazed. Accompanied by a six-piece band, he plunges straight into a triptych of songs from new album 'The Shadow of an Empire', delivering them in the determined rasp of someone glad to be on stage again.
Self-produced by Regan, and belatedly released in January, the record sees the artist ringing the changes with a vengeance. In place of his previous genuflections to Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen, he's embraced Bob Dylan's freewheelin' sound, with honky-tonk guitars, yelped vocals and an air of jittery propulsiveness. He used to be an archetype moocher, now he can't bear to stand still.
Regan is an animated frontman. Anyone inclined to write him off as just another misery-hound with an acoustic guitar will be shocked. Tonight he is a dynamo of bedsit angst, all jerking limbs and flapping mane. Granted, his reedy voice is an acquired taste and as a songwriter he appears keener on rediscovering the past than forging a path towards the future. Nonetheless, this is a full-throated turn from a performer who, having been in the wars, has come back fighting.