Dar Williams @ Workman's Club. Sunday 24th May 2015

With an enthusiastic audience welcoming back Dar Williams to these shores, this turned out to be a wonderful evening of song, stories and warm reflection.

 Lucy Wainwright Roche opened the show with a set that was filled with great songs and sparkling conversation. She is a real tonic, whether giving her observations regarding the state of play in her extended family ("the last thing you need is another one of us coming to sing you songs") or her insights from travelling alone in her car for the last few years. The performance tonight is focused mainly on her recent release There’s a Last Time for Everything. Her voice is very clear and has a beautiful quality as she sings from the heart. Numbers such as Seek & Hide, Last Time and The Same, all stand as a testament to her fine writing and rich talent.

Dar Williams is such a confident and gifted performer and she handles her 14 song set with complete ease in both delivery and pacing. A very entertaining story teller, Dar gives insights into the various songs and what motivated their writing. She plays 7 tracks from her new release, Emerald and such is the quality of the performance that they slot straight in beside the more recognised numbers as if they are old favourites.

Starting with The Babysitter's Here and following with three new songs in Something to Get Through, Slippery Slope and the title track Emerald, the solo guitar sound allows them to be heard in their original form. The Ocean and Mercy of the Fallen are given an airing plus Iowa, a song that is high on the wish lists of many in the audience as they join in with the sing-along chorus.

Empty Plane and Mad River are played from Emerald, together with Weight of the World originally writen by Kat Goldman. The One Who Knows is one of the great songs in celebration of the bond that exists between a parent and a child, summed up in the lines; “So when they ask how far love goes, when my job's done you'll be the one who knows”. What  lovely words.

Lucy Wainwright Roche joins Dar Williams onstage for a few numbers including the Irish ballad ‘Will Ye Go, Lassie Go’ written by Francis McPeake. For the encore, Dar sings New York is a Harbour, a song that celebrates the great city and all its’ contrasting influences.

With such a large body of work there were many more songs that the audience would have liked to hear. Sadly the evening comes to a close and both artists move to the merchandise desk in order to meet and greet people and sign CD’s. 

Dar Williams is a true talent to all who have been influenced by her insightful and intimate songs. She has the gift of communicating the human experience into something that can be shared and this, after all, is the real power of music.

Review by Paul McGee    Photograph by Vincent Lennon