Patty Griffin@ The Olympia Theatre - Sunday 17th January 2016.

Starting with Move Up from the Downtown Church album, Patty announces her return to Dublin in fine style. Accompanied by a band that includes the amazing guitar talent of David Pulkingham, multi-instrumentalist Billy Harvey and Conrad Choucroun on drums, the musicians are of the highest calibre and the interplay and subtle touches that enrich the song arrangements are a joy to witness in this live setting.

There Isn’t One Way and Gunpowder are followed by Standing and Made of the Sun, written for her mother, as she hits the ground running at a striking pace. The sound quality is excellent and the mix separation meant that every instrument could be clearly heard. Sadly this had a detrimental effect on the vocals from Patty which came across as shrill and tinny in the overall band sound and not up to expected standards.

This was not such a big issue on the quieter numbers, when she sat at the piano to perform two standout songs from the new record, title track Servant of Love and You Never Asked Me, a song about relationships that cuts to the bone with its deeply poignant and personal perspective.

Mother of God, Ohio, 250,000 Miles and Everything’s Changed all follow and watching Billy Harvey and Conrad Choucroun change instruments is a sign of the talent on display here and the quiet ease with which they go about coaxing fine playing from bass guitar, mandolin, keyboards, drums and piano. David Pulkingham hovers like an eagle above the rhythm, soaring and swooping around the groove and pulling magic from the air with his guitar runs.

Shine a Different Way is dedicated to the Dixie Chicks and their reunion, which shows the enduring power of positive energy to overcome negative experiences. Truth #2 is played and there is also a dynamic performance of Irish Boy, written in memory of her father who emigrated from Ireland. She speaks of her short visit to these shores with a sense of frustration as she tells stories of her family and their Irish connections. A tour schedule can be hectic and leave the strongest of spirits feeling drained; however there is a great energy in the performance tonight as Patty drives the band with her impressive guitar and piano playing.

Seeing her perform is always a joy and the crowd tonight went home to the angelic sound of Patty singing All Creatures of Our God and King, a Gospel hymn taken from a poem written by St Francis of Assisi and delivered with the passion and grace that is the life-blood of her impressive catalogue of work.

Review by Paul McGee   Photograph by Vincent Lennon