'Suddenly I'm in a room with Ed Sheeran, Tom Jones, David Beckham' - Cavan singer Lorraine O'Reilly takes to Olympia stage with Russell Crowe tonight
A singer from Cavan is due to hit the Olympia Theatre stage with Russell Crowe and his band Indoor Garden Party tonight.
Lorraine O'Reilly (41), originally from Drumlane but living in London, was chosen by the Hollywood star to fill the boots of his fellow Les Mis star Samantha Barks when she was unable to embark on the band's three date tour of the UK and Ireland.
They first met in March after Crowe heard a song Lorraine had recorded with Ronan McManus of the band BibleCode Sundays for their new album Walk Like Kings.
Although the song didn't make the album, McManus, who is a brother of Elvis Costello, sent it to Crowe and the Gladiator star decided he wanted to record it with Lorraine.
"Ronan called to tell me and I honestly thought he was having me on," reveals Lorraine. "Ronan and myself have a bit of banter together, a bit of a joke, and I was like, 'yeah, right, he’s definitely having me on. It’s definitely not going to happen'. He said, 'No, honestly, you’re going into the studio in a couple of weeks time'.
However, she says she was cautious about getting excited.
"I’ve been in music a long time," she explains. "I played the Dublin scene many years back - 1998, 1999, 2000, I've done the Whelan’s stuff, and sometimes you get so built up and then get a bit of a knock back so I don’t get too excited in case something might not come about. I always keep my cool about it and wait until it has actually happened!"
This time, thankfully, it did happen. Lorraine recorded her vocals in London in November and Russell recorded his in Sydney. When he heard the finished product he said he loved it and asked to meet Lorraine.
"I was really excited about that part," she laughs.
In March he invited Lorraine and Ronan to dinner at the Dorchester but, she says, she was unprepared for quite how starry that dinner would be.
"We thought we were going to a room to meet him and a couple of other people but there were twenty people in the room, people like Tom Jones, Ronan Keating, Ed Sheeran, David Beckham, Brooklyn Beckham," she says.
"To say I felt out of my depth is an understatement! It was surreal. It is one of those memories I’ll never forget. Sometimes I have to pinch myself."
She continues, "Russell had his guitar with him, obviously expecting a sing song. He’s really good fun, like the Irish to be fair. He likes a drink, likes to have a bit of craic, and loves listening to music and singing songs. So he shouted across at me, ‘Lorraine!’ - at this point we had spoken about five words to each other - 'Lorraine, pick up the guitar and sing a song for Tom.'
"That was a moment of, ‘Oh my God if ever there’s a moment I need to shine or hold it together this is it' so I got up and sang for the room and it was unbelievable. It was just one of those times where the experience of being a performer and keeping your cool had to kick in. Words couldn’t really describe how I felt inside."
After her turn, Tom approached her for a chat. Lorraine had entered The Voice UK in 2013 when Tom was one of the coaches and although she made it to the blind auditions unfortunately none of the coaches turned for her.
"I got very good feedback with respect to the song, but the band was overpowering," she says. "[The coaches] said to come back on my own with a guitar and they’d love to hear it. I had a really good conversation with Tom about it. He remembered me and gave me really good advice. He said, 'I’m looking forward to hearing the song with Russell. Keep doing what your’e doing.' He’s got his feet on the ground and just takes it all in. He’s a really lovely man, really nice."
Lorraine expected that to be the end of her relationship with Crowe and the band, but in July he contacted her and asked if she would replace Samantha Barks on the three-date tour of the UK and Ireland.
Recovering from an operation last month Lorraine spent that time learning the songs but she says, "I wasn't getting ahead of myself because I still felt they could pull the plug. I didn't mention it to anybody, just kept it to myself, learned the songs, and did my homework in the background."
Rehearsals started just last week before the band appeared on the BBC's The One Show on Wednesday night. They played Union Chapel in London, Leeds, and they hit the Olympia Theatre stage tonight.
"I supported Aslan there a few years back and it’s a fabulous venue," she says. "I’m really excited to be doing that, particularly because it’s Dublin. I think the show will really work with a Dublin audience."
Lorraine is currently working on solo material and although she has no immediate plans to work with Russell Crowe again she hopes to do so in the future.
"He loves music and he really wants to be doing it as much as he can but movies are the priority and after the show he leaves to go and film Boy Erased so he has a massive schedule and its al about working around it," she says.
"We’ve talked about working together more and he’s been very complimentary to me through the process so I’m hoping to work with him again. Watch this space!"
Indoor Garden Party play The Olympia Theatre tonight.