Tom Robinson/Gerry Diver/Raphael Doyle/Louis Doyle @ Whelan’s 30th January 2017

Raphael Doyle has been a musician since the early 70’s and a friend of Tom Robinson. They initially played together in a band called Café Society but their paths took different directions over subsequent years.

In 2016, Raphael was diagnosed with motor neuron disease and his son Louis, also a musician, convinced his Dad to write and record a selection of songs that have just been released on Never Closer. Father and Son teamed up with Tom Robinson and award winning producer Gerry Diver to finish and record the CD, which forms the main body of the performance tonight.

This joint project has produced an album they should all be justifiably proud of and the live performance in Whelan’s, while poignant, Is also very uplifting and full of happy moments.

Gerry Diver plays fiddle, mandolin and flute with superb craft as he fills out the song arrangements in both a subtle and understated fashion. Tom Robinson adds guitar and vocal and brings great colour to the performance with his confident stage presence and larger-than-life persona.  

Louis is a very good guitar player and has a fine voice, something that is highlighted later in the evening when he delivers a solo performance of one of his own compositions.

Having opened the evening with an acoustic set of audience favourites [including Glad To Be Gay, War Baby and Up Against the Wall], Tom Robinson played a couple of songs from his excellent new album, Only the Now, before joining Raphael, Gerry and Louis to play songs from Never Closer.

The performance of songs like The Touch of Our Hands; Feet on the Floor; Live the Game and We’ll All Get Together Again point to the excellent song-writing talent and flair for observation that Raphael has brought to the project.

There are 2 covers with Robbie Robertson’s The Shape I’m In and Bob Dylan’s Dream but it is the dedication to his wife that takes centre spot as Raphael sings Rose with a tenderness and true love that is quite moving.

The 8-minute poem I Come From Ireland is uncomfortably honest in reminiscing on a life lived and of chances missed; “nobody’s fault but mine” is how Raphael summarises at various points during the delivery.

A heart-felt night of poetry and song delivered with real bravery and honesty. Raphael Doyle is going forward with all the courage he can muster and it is memories like tonight that will give him the strength to do so. 

Review by Paul McGee  Photigraph by Donna McGee