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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

Megan O'Neill, Liv Austen, Claydon Connor, Pete Gardiner - The Troubadour

Providing the opening set of the evening fell to Pete Gardiner, a Northern Irish singer now based in London. If you appreciate wordplay then he could be your man, as most of the songs came with a lovely turn of phrase. There were a number of stand out songs “Ashtray Black” from his forthcoming album was one that immediately made an impact as did the closer “£10 In My Pocket & A Woman On My Mind”. He had a great sense of humour and got the evening off to a promising start.

It was but a few short weeks ago, that we saw Megan O’Neill playing the Green Note as an acoustic trio, and a few days later would see her launch her EP at the newly opened Sound Lounge with her band the Common Threads, however tonight it was an “In The Round” event with Megan hosting sat at the keyboard with Liv Austen to her left and Claydon Connor to her right both on guitar.

Round 1 opened with Claydon, previewing a song from his hopefully soon to be released EP, “Which Road”. The new EP is in the can, and is produced by one of the Canadian band, Crash Test Dummies. Megan opened with “Don’t You”, it’s always a treat to see her sitting behind a keyboard and she did not disappoint, the song easily able to stand on its own merits in this stripped back performance. Liv closed out Round 1 with her single of 2016 “Don’t Regret a Single One”, with Megan providing additional backing vocals, the sort of thing that makes these sort of evenings such fun.

It was harmonica time for Claydon as he opened Round 2 with a song now nearly 5 years old “Whiskey Nights”. His performance of this song just gets better and better as he wrings every ounce of angst from the lyrics. It certainly silenced the Troubadour. Megan treated us to an unreleased song, itself 2 years old, “Half Of Myself”. It was a classic country song, that somehow has not yet fitted in with any of Megan’s projects so far. It is definitely a keeper and comes with a great misheard lyric story. Liv once again closed the round, with a song that will surely propel her to great things in 2017. Already this year #TeamW21 have seen it receive a great welcome at Midwinterfest, and at the Jazz Café, whether it be the catchy doo doo doo doo chorus or the lyrics being a twist on a conventional relationship, with the girl explaining all the bad things she’ll do, it seems to strike a chord with anyone who hears it. It’s called “The Same Story”, and by the end both Megan and Claydon were joining in on the chorus it was that infectious.

Claydon started round 3 with an uptempo song “Hello Heartbreak Blues”, another song from the forthcoming EP. Megan chose to tell the disturbing song about how her house was broken into. In this format “Walls” almost had a little hint of “Because The Night” about it in the piano playing, which it doesn’t on her wonderful “Stories To Tell” EP. It was a great performance to witness and was a real advert for why these type of shows are always so interesting. Liv once again closed out the round with “Detour” another of her new songs with its own haunting guitar refrain running through it.

Sadly there was to be only one more round, Claydon taking the opportunity to unveil another new song, the heartbreakingly sad “Some Things Come From Nowhere”, while Megan took the opportunity to throw in a cover in the shape of Ryan Adam’s “Oh My Sweet Carolina”. To bring things to a close Liv invited Pete Gardiner back on to the stage for a duet, a rip roaring “So Damn Glad To Hear From You Tonight”, another highly promising song on first listen. They’ve written three songs together and on this evidence it has brought out the best in both in them.

Another great “In The Round” session was to come to a close, an evening of new versions, new songs and collaborations that make these nights so compelling and entertaining.



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