Luan Parle @ Dockyard 8 Bray - 21th July 2016


Dockyard 8 has earned the reputation in recent years as one of the hippest diners in the Wicklow/South Dublin region. As a further string to their bow they have decided to host midweek music events offering the best of both worlds by combining talented acts with casual dining.

The first of these evenings features Wicklow born Luan Parle, Irish Meteor Award Winner and one of  Irelands premier female vocalist. Luan has been touring extensively this year both at home, in Europe and America accompanied by blues guitarist and singer/songwriter Clive Barnes. This evenings show was an opportunity to witness their combined talents and in particular to reassess an artist who career appears to be enjoying a renaissance in recent times.

The setting is ideal on a scorching summers evening with the stage situated at the entrance to the restaurant overlooking Bray Harbour and the retractable roof opened slightly to allow adequate ventilation. Luan Parle comes on stage via the front door announcing how impressive her outdoor dressing room is!

The evening is relaxed with the duo performing material from her current EP Roll The Dice together with songs from her back catalogue. As expected her vocal is sweet and evocative throughout supplemented by some stunning guitar work by Barnes on his favoured Gretsch guitar.

Highlights include the title track Roll The Dice which Parle introduces as "not the mix version which also features on the album, I was aiming at the boy racer market with that mix!" You’re Not Here and Funny also feature from her latest together with Why Baby Why and Strawberry Fair from her 2010 album The Full Circle. Ghost, her 2002 hit single, featuring lyrics sung in Irish and English also features as a strong contender in the set.

Barnes also performs a number of songs solo, playing some divine slide guitar and also amusing the audience with anecdotes relating to some dodgy tour managers he engaged early in his career. He also recalls an encounter with Bruce Springsteen whom he had the unexpected pleasure of sharing an adjoining urinal when Barnes inadvertently ended up in a VIP toilet at a Springsteen gig in the States. "An introduction and unwashed handshake followed" we are told!

The evening closes with two covers, a sultry rendition of Springsteen’s I’m On Fire, in honour of the bathroom handshake and a rocked up version of Where Did You Sleep Tonight?.

All in all, a particularly enjoyable evening, very well received by those present in a worthy venue and based on this performance evidence that Luan Parle is entering a period in her musical career that can only bring her further positive recognition.

Review and photograph by Declan Culliton