Peter Bruntnell @ Cleere’s - Kilkenny 31st May 2018

A regular visitor to Kilkenny, Peter Bruntnell has been performing in The Marble City solo, with full bands, duets and trios over many years, his most recent being a whistle stop tour with his full band at The Roots Festival in 2017 where he played four times over that weekend, all to adoring crowds it has to be said.

Tonight’s show is advertised as a trio. Joining him on stage are Iain Sloan of Wynntown Marshals fame who plays pedal steel, electric guitar – beautifully it has to be said - and backing vocals and Danny Wilson on upright bass, whose playing is equally impressive. It’s a format that Bruntnell has toured previously with in the U.K. as evidenced by their note perfect delivery throughout. However, the three-piece format increases to four before the end of their opening forty-minute set when local accordion virtuoso Ger Moloney joins them on stage and four became five towards the end of the evening when the man with coolest Gretsch guitars Clive Barnes, also makes an appearance. 

This evenings setlist reflects the stage format. Whereas his last gigs with his full band featured some of the more rockier songs in his vast back catalogue, this evening concentrates on some of his more tranquil material, ideally suited to the semi acoustic set up. His opening set includes Clothes of Winter, Sea of Japan, Bluebeard, Domestico and John, all from his excellent 2008 album Peter And The Murder Of Crows, and all impeccably suited to the bands composition. False Start and one of his most popular songs Cold Water Swimming, all from the same album are also included in his second set. In fact, before his band members make their way back to the stage for this second set we are even given a master class in Bruntnell’s ability to perform solo when he launches into the gorgeous Caroline, the closing track from his latest album Nos Da ComradeEnd Of The World and Long Way From Home also from the current album, both feature when Sloan and Williams return to the stage.

The Cats Laugh Comedy Festival is about to kick off in Kilkenny and the laid-back stage banter this evening includes many comical moments of its own, from comments about musicians being financially supported by their wives to the somewhat portly Sloan commenting as the slimmer Clive Barnes takes the stage ‘he’s a handsome lad, if you stretched me out I’d look like that!’.

The show allows has its more sombre moments with two dedications to the late Willie Meighan, including the crowd favourite By The Time My Head Gets To Phoenix,enhanced by cracking guitar playing by Barnes and accordion by Moloney and the superb closer Have You Seen That Girl Again.

It’s difficult to even consider a particular highlight in such an outstanding performance but his delivery of the delightful Widows Walk,with haunting pedal steel by Sloan, is simply spine chilling and a wonderful memory from a special night.

Credit must also go to local musician and sound engineer Peter Flynn whose contribution on sound and the pin drop silence from the floor all added to a quite stunning evenings entertainment. 

Another Peter Bruntnell show and another standing ovation for one of the finest artists to emerge from the U.K. music industry in decades. Why he isn’t a household name is beyond comprehension, the plus side being that we get to see him appear in smaller venues on his regular trips to Ireland. 

Review and photography by Declan Culliton