Megan O'Neill - The Green Note
Having only completed an outstanding sell out show at 229 just before Christmas, it seemed a little early for a return to the London stage for Megan, but it turned out that this was to be no simple rehash of that show, this was a stripped down version with just a drummer and a guitarist for company to give a different perspective of songs both old and forthcoming,
Opening with "Any Younger", Megan was on simply sparkling form, with her band giving the gentlest of backing allowing her to really shine, with just the additional backing vocals making the performance perfect. Moving to the piano things continued in a similar vein, revisiting her last album, first with "Let's Make One Up", then with "Bottle" and then the title track, "The Ghost Of You".
The first of those tracks in this format took on the format of a jazz standard, and simply oozed quality, with a beautiful appropriate guitar solo being the icing on the cake. For "Bottle", there was the real feel of drama on the chorus on the lines "Call me a drunk I don't agree I'm just finding out who I want to be".
At 229 in December, each of the new songs had sounded extremely promising and whetted the appetite for the new record, this performance only made it even more anticipated. The first of the new songs "Break Hearts" co written with Kaity Rae. dealt with the subject of "Sneaky crushes", sung as duet with her guitarist taking the second verse, had something of a modern pop classic about it. The next new song "Winter Sun" was released just before Christmas, a gorgeous piano led ballad with a delightful ballad, with some subtle sympathetic backing from the band and some lovely backing vocals. The new songs came thick and fast, "Fire With Fire" was an all out rocker at 229, tonight it was reimagined for a three piece, and while it may have lost a little of the power, the message was all the more clearer for the vocals being more accessible. It was back to guitar for Megan for the next new song "Devil You Know" a Jake Morrell co write, which came with a big power chorus and some brutal honesty..
The last time Ben Earle and Megan collaborated together the result was the wonderful "Can't Put A Price On That", their latest effort "Strangers Before We Met" continues that rich vein. Played solo on guitar, it had all the hallmarks of an early Shires song, neatly observed and beautifully delivered turning a simple idea into something special.
It was then time for Megan to go a bit "whacky" with her version of Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" which fitted in really well with the rest of the evenings material. A return to the piano then brought a world premiere for "London City", with the warning "Try not to cry!". It was an appreciation of her time in London, addressed to the city as if it were a person, it was both touching and moving. In theory laying so many new songs on an audience in one night had the potential to go horribly wrong, but such is the strength of the new material, that it was like meeting new friends that you were going to get along with fabulously. The next new tune "Under Rated", had a late night jazz feel to it in the verses with a powerful warning in the chorus of "Don't Underrate Me".
A slight diversion via last years cover of "Girl Crush" brought us to the final batch of new songs destined for the new record, "Ireland" is a glorious dispassionate appreciation of her home country, an appreciation only gained after leaving it, delivered in a gentle ballad. The penultimate tune of the night was actually to be the opening track of the new album and it was a belter. With a part for the audience in the shape of an almost tribal chant, "Should've Known Better" was a fantastic coming together of singer and audience, with a fearsomely delivered chorus this will be worth the price of the album alone! Closing with last year's excellent single of "Rootless", the new album seems destined to propel Megan O'Neill to another level - and it will be well deserved.