David Corley and The Wandering Stars @ The Workman’s Club 10th May 2016

Little more than eight months after suffering a heart attack on stage at Groningen Netherlands, it’s hard to fathom that David Corley is completing the second last date of a gruelling 10 shows in 12 days’ tour of Ireland.  A triumphant return to Kilkenny for two shows at The Kilkenny Roots was followed by concerts in Carlow, Cork, Waterford, Tipperary, Galway and Dublin with an additional farewell trip back to Cleeres in Kilkenny for what has been an incredible tour.

It’s worth noting that a sizable contingent in the audience at The Workman’s Club tonight also attended Corley’s shows at the Kilkenny Roots Festival just over a week ago and equally noteworthy is how much tighter as a unit Corley and his wonderful Wandering Stars are this evening. No doubt as a result of the hectic schedule on stage over the preceding week.

The Wandering Stars consist of multi-instrumentalist and producer (Hugh) Chris Brown on keyboard and guitar, Brown’s fellow Openhearts Society vocalist Sarah Mc Dermott, singer-songwriter and mandolin/guitar wizard Joey Wright, ex-Bourbon Tabernacle Choir drummer Gregor Beresford and very special guest and bass guitarist supremo Cait O’Riordan. Individually a collection of outstanding musicians and collectively as tight a unit as possible.

Taking the stage following an excellent opening set where Brown, Wright and Mc Dermott all contributed offerings from their own music collections, Corley reports sarcastically that the only medical impediments to report since his heart attach were ‘having a tooth pulled after my second Irish date, by a pliers by the feel of it, and getting may hand stuck in the tour van door’.

His set-list visited material from Available Light and his more recent recording Lights Out together with a beautiful song titled Zero Moon, to be included in his next album due for release in 2017. This was performed with Corley on keyboards and Brown contributing guitar duties.‘I’m really like a kid in a Candy Store, dad look at me now!’ Corley offered explaining his ambition from an early age to play Dublin.

Highlights included the rocking Dog Tales, written by Corley some years ago while he resided in New York ‘living the most decadent existence’, the wonderful opening track from Lights Out, Watching The Sun Go, and Calm Revolution, sounding even better live with backing vocals by McDermott, Brown and Wright giving it that additional punch.

Dividing Line from Lights Out, the final song, refers to Sunset Boulevard and the thin line between residing in the swanky side of San Francisco, where Corley’s sister lived while he was resident in that city, or in the less salubrious districts that exist not so far apart.’ I lived in the flats’ Corley joked. The song also brings to mind the thin line between life and death, an obvious consideration for Corley given that the song was composed during his period of recovery.

All in all, an enthralling evening by a team of musicians at the top of their game and supporting a songwriter that undoubtedly has their love and respect and witnessed by an audience quite obviously savouring every moment.

Particular mention must go to Garry Kehoe for promoting and tour managing Corley and his assembly of such talented musicians for a tour that included shows in towns seldom visited by international acts. It is so satisfying that all the shows outside Dublin were sold out and an indication for the appetite of music lovers all over the country to come out and support live music given the opportunity.

Review and photograph by Declan Culliton