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Bewley's Café Theatre, Grafton Street, Dublin , 18 November 2006

I popped into Tower Records in Wicklow St. and bought myself a copy of the new Beatles album. It didn't get released in the UK until the following Monday so I was quite looking forward to getting back home on Sunday to don the headphones and get a head start on the rest of the UK.

However, there was someone a bit more special than a mere mini-exclusive on the Fab Four, who was my real reason for jetting over to Ireland.

Buying a CD is a token gesture of support, going to a concert in a nearby town is considered to be an act of dedication to some, so where does that leave a weekend return flight and overnight hotel on the fan club ladder ? The focus of this attention is Celine Carroll, the act of support was fully justified.

Most of the tables in this candlelit cabaret were occupied when Celine took to the stage. Her band remained silent while she sat at her piano and delivered Apologise. It was dedicated to yours truly and warmly received by all. From the first clap onwards the trend was set by a receptive audience in this intimate setting.

All attendees shared the same intentions. They were here to absorb and appreciate the uncomplicated quality of Celine's own music.

Her band joined in from song 2, Long Time Here. Reading across the stage from left to right, they were Siobhan Lennon, (assistant vocalist). Celine Carroll, (piano & acoustic guitars), Jim Tate (5-string bass), Jerry Fehily, (drums), Dave McGinley (lead electric & acoustic guitars).

Siobhan was perfect. Her vocals were so well matched with Celine's that you'd swear they were sisters. Assistant vocalist as opposed to backing. She even had her own solo contribution on Take It All In which was duly appreciated by all present.

Jim Tate's left hand was weaving some grand patterns up and down the neck of his bass guitar. However, the opening bars of Pink Floyd's Money failed to convince Celine that she should increase his fee.

Jerry was faultless on his un-miked drumkit although his face was obscured from view by one of his cymbals.

Dave on lead guitar(s) also gave a top class solid performance. He's by far removed from the ‘prima-donna' type of lead guitarist, but he should have his own mike as we missed out some grand one-liners. He even had time to offer a ‘bless you' to a sneeze on one of the front tables.

As for Celine, we were treated to 21 of her very own songs. There were enough new songs to convince me that there is already plenty of material for a further 2 more albums to add to her existing releases. Her 2 hour show felt as though it had lasted for just 2 minutes.

Her songs are uncomplicated and intelligible. Her influences range from Sir Paul McCartney (check-out Grey Sky Blue) to Gilbert O'Sullivan (Better Than This). Celine says that she has been cleaning the stairs or walking along the beach when the inspiration kicks in

From what I witnessed tonight, I see no reason why Celine Carroll should not be up there alongside (and above) the cream of Irish female singer/songwriters.

If I have any misgivings, Celine Carroll deserves far more radio airplay. Did the show warrant the journey? Most definitely. The Beatles Album ? - the jury's still out

Review by Graham Ashmore

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