Support: Joe Chester / With:The Discovery Gospel Choir
I’d seen Gemma seven times in seven years in seven different venues all around Dublin before tonight, an assortment of places ranging from the cool (Tripod) to the not so cool (Howth Summit Inn) to the damn right odd (Dundrum Mill Theatre). This though was by far the largest show and accompanied by a full band this was to be a little different from the usual Gemma gigs.
I had managed to get tickets for seats three rows from the front and so we had a great view although the temporary seats in the Olympia leave a lot to be desired, not much space and very little comfort, however that is a minor gripe for what continues to be the best gig venue in town.
Support was from Joe Chester who used to play in Gemma‘s band a few years ago. As she later said herself he is a talented guy who was too good to be part of the group. He is definitely worth checking out...as for Gemma...well she would be able to fill the Olympia if we didn’t live in a pop / fame here today gone tomorrow world. As it was the theatre was maybe three quarters full but Gemma looked genuinely thrilled to be playing here and it was wonderful to see her in such good form. Sometimes I feel she holds back on stage and doesn’t get her personality across. Tonight though we saw a different Gemma; in fact we saw the many sides to her talent in the covers she sang. From rock chick on Ever Fallen In Love, to crooner on Wicked Game, to songstress on Cloudbusting.The covers were well chosen and all excellent but it is her own songs that stand out. She seems to be in a rich vein of song writing form as newest album, Let It Break, is full of tunes including Keep Running and Shock To My System, not forgetting the sublime Waiting For You which opened the show.
The strength in her back catalogue is shown by playing the title track of first E.P. 4.35am (unbelievably released 11 years ago) as well as debut album favourites, Back Of My Hand, and first song of the encore, Let A Good Thing Go. Her ‘cheeriest’ song, Happy Sad was great as was her storytelling with a fabulous extended Oliver story and she managed to handle the few shouts from the crowd with aplomb (Why some people feel the need to shout stupid things during quiet moments at gigs I really don’t know…chances are it will be embarrassing for you and everyone else so just keep it to yourself).
As a Christmas treat the quite brilliant Discovery Gospel Choir rushed on stage to belt out a version of Ride on King Jesus. Then Joe Chester joined her and the choir to finish the gig in seasonal style with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
Why was she in such good form tonight? I think the band played a big part in it. They seemed to give her a platform, a backbone to really let herself go. Ann Scott has been there as Gemma’s right hand woman for years but the addition of a drummer and bass / keyboard player certainly added to the strength in the performance. If only Gemma could sort the bass player’s dress sense out then they would be perfect...unless that is he was going for a ‘Chas and Dave’s roadie’ look in which case he got it spot on.
I hear rumours of a live album release of tonight’s show. I really hope so as it would do her justice and hopefully do for Gemma what Set List did for the Frames.
PS. If there is any chance of me getting a signed CD of Oliver complete with a drawing of a rocket riding rabbit heading towards an elephant with a stick man on top…then I really would love one (You had to be there).
Ticket: December 9th 2012
Ticket Price: €30.00