The Vicar St. Sessions Vol I
The cream of Irish music celebrate an unheralded genius
Paul Brady? Who he? You ask; well my friend I first saw Paul Brady over 30 years ago at the legendary Riverside Club in Newcastle when he was the new Bob Dylan/Van Morrison/James Taylor (delete as appropriate) and while he has never achieved the record sales he deserved he has made an extraordinarily good living from his songwriting; and alongside some wonderful collaborations over the years, that is what this album/concert goes someway to celebrating.
The songs here are from a series of 23 gigs Brady did at Vicar St. in Dublin Town across the month of October 2001 and include many of his own wonderful songs and duets with some of Irelands finest singers (plus a couple of others) who were all at the very height of their careers.
Opening with what fans might consider his ‘signature tune’, I Want You To Want Me, Brady and band sound like the greatest Soft-Rock band you’ve ever heard this is followed by the first collaboration; with Mark Knopfler no less on Baloney Again, where the Geordie guitarist shows why he is the most underrated guitarist in the world; no histrionics, just brilliant guitar licks to compliment two great voices.
With Brady’s songs for others it’s difficult to tell what are his finest works; as I was taken by surprise when he introduced Pop Star Ronan Keating to join him; but my wife was singing along with The Long Goodbye immediately as it is (apparently) one of her favourite singles by Keating. Who knew?
For me though the first time I listened was without any aid memoir so hearing Bonnie Raitt on Not The Only One and Mr. Van Morrison singing Irish Heartbeat alongside Brady was beyond special; and although I’m not a fan, Sinead O’Conner singing her own In This Heart with Brady turned me all gooey inside; honest.
Even that song isn’t the biggest and best surprise as Curtis Stigers singing Don’t Go Far accompanied by his own acoustic guitar and Brady on piano should be an absolute ‘show stealer;’ but when Eleanor McAvoy sings Last Seen October 9th with Brady gently tinkling the piano you can’t even hear a breath in the venue for the duration of this heartbreaking yet beautiful song.
Baring in mind this album was recorded 14 years ago; the production values are fantastic with everything sounding crystal clear and by the time we get to the finale; an ensemble singing Dylan’s Forever Young with gusto, zeal and smiles a’plenty I defy anyone not to be checking out Brady’s back catalogue with an view to spending hard cash on some of his previous 14 albums.