Monday 17 December 2018

Cathy: Eruption in the Tripod

Cathy Davey
Tripod, Dublin

Singer-songwriter Cathy Davey performs at the Tripod
Singer-songwriter Cathy Davey performs at the Tripod


Cathy Davey must throw her eyes heavenward every time she hears herself hailed as 'Ireland's Bjork'. Alas, such comparisons are probably inevitable when your favourite mode of communication is an ethereal yelp and your songs are populated with a raggle-taggle of yearners, outsiders and freaks.

Strapped into what looks like a one-piece black denim jumpsuit, Davey is an eye-grabbing performer, though not one who cares particularly for the limelight. She's happy to cede some of the glory to Villagers guitarist Conor O'Brien, who grits her material with 'Guitar Hero' theatrics and occasional flourishes of over-elaboration.

His embellishments, albeit top-heavy, add oomph to Davey's earth mother sensibilities -- otherwise, you fear, much of her music might float away on a cloud of wispiness.

While she enjoyed moderate commercial success with her 2004 debut 'Something Ilk', Davey -- daughter of Wicklow-based composer Shaun Davey -- balked at the touring treadmill and vanished for 18 months. She returned in late 2007 with a stunning reinvention: a frothy, tempestuous collection of bedsit rockers entitled 'Tales of Silversleeve'. In short order, she notched up a string of radio hits and broke through the singer-songwriter glass ceiling with a spot in a high profile Vodafone commercial


At Tripod, the best of 'Silversleeve' pleads for anthemic status. There's an eruption of pogoing on the crowded floor when she dusts down 'Reuben', a skewed romantic tirade glazed in sugar-candy vocals; 'Moving' (you'll recognise it from the Vodafone ad) prompts a burst of crazed-raver dancing from a chap near the front.

Returning for the encore, she bashes out a tune from behind the drum kit and then lets us in on a secret. "I'm getting married shortly," she says. "So this song is for my husband-to-be." That's by way of introducing 'Sing For Your Supper', her biggest smash to date.

Like all her best songs, it's joyously simple, a nursery-rhyme melody leading into a skyscraper chorus. As the room bursts into a spontaneous singalong, Davey grins impishly, as if it's only just struck her that, in Ireland anyway, she's on the brink of something special. At the very least, those Bjork comparisons are starting to feel awfully trite.

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