Kevin Montgomery and Clive Barnes - Mick Murphy’s, Ballymore Eustace - 10th October 2016

Monday night at this intimate venue and the last date on an Irish Tour. The place is packed with long-time fans, word-of-mouth newbies and interested onlookers, who just want to catch the experience of extending the weekend a little bit further.

This singer-songwriter has been producing quality music for many years now and although commercial success is something that he has flirted with and even dated seriously for a while, his undiminished talent stays true and shines as brightly as ever.

He is accompanied tonight by the always impressive Clive Barnes, a superb guitarist and interpreter of live performance dynamics, who supplies the right shades of colour to each song performed by the duo. They have an easy presence and spark off each other with a mutual respect that is clear for all to see in their playing.

Visiting his releases over the years, Kevin treats the audience to a string of finely crafted songs about love gained and lost, journeys of the heart and mind, feelings of aspiration and desperation and plenty of thoughtful reflections on life as another fellow traveller along this unknown highway.

Favourites come in the shape of Another Long Story, Tennessee Girl, Red Blooded American Boy and Let’s All Go To California. He also treats us to a version of Heartbeat, a song written by his Dad, Bob Montgomery, for Buddy Holly. Nothing is a beautiful and heart-felt song written for his daughter who passed away and the naked emotion in the lyric really hits home in such a small venue; you could hear a pin drop …

A few songs from the new release, Some Comfort, are given an airing - Motion Picture, I Will Love You Anyway and the superb The Greatest Love I Never Knew, a song of unrequited love which shows all Clive Barnes interpretive skills with some spine-tingling guitar work as he lifts the song to increasing heights.

Clive also played a short solo set during the gig and showcased his bottleneck playing virtuoso talent on a couple of blues tracks, in addition to playing an acoustic song from his upcoming release. Fantastic to see such a craftsman perform so close at hand.

It was a night of real warmth with both performers completely relaxed and not distracted by the close proximity of the audience. Kevin finishes with an encore of Fear Nothing, an old favourite that has the room harmonising on the chorus and leaving the venue with a smile and renewed resolve to face the daily routine. 

Review by Paul McGee  Photograph by Vincent Lennon