Gig Review and Photography by Michael Sibbons
On the hottest night of the year (so far), I took the tube into London to spend an evening listening to Áine Cahill – The Guardian’s 2017 One-to-Watch and Sunday Times ‘Breaking Act’ – at The Lexington in Islington.
Áine Cahill is an Irish pop singer-songwriter inspired by strong modern leading female icons such as Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey whose performance has more than a hint of classic jazz. Áine made her debut at Glastonbury 2016 performing on the Bread and Roses stage before being noticed by the BBC and being invited to perform on their live television coverage. After this very successful set she went to feature in other successful events and festivals.
On taking to the stage, she started her set with an a capella cover of ‘Bang Bang’ (more reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra than Cher), Áine was joined by her band members: first a keyboardist, also providing backing vocals, and a violinist, and later her drummer. Cementing that although the music is good, and they certainly know how to play, vocals are the main focal point here.
Performing a strong 15 song set, including her singles – ‘Black Dahlia,’ ‘White Piano,’ ‘The 27 Club’ and the recent ‘Plastic’ – Áine was controlling the room for an hour. There was no need for sideshows with fireworks and lasers here: this talented young lady’s own showmanship and stage presence was keeping the audience entertained.
For the majority of the set, Áine performed her own music mixed with a couple of fantastic covers: Rihanna’s Diamonds and Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You (which featured her sampling the lyrics from Sia’s Cheap Thrills resulting in the aptly named ‘Shape of Cheap Thrills’ on the setlist).
In between the sets Áine was talking to the audience, giving the origin of some of her songs and who they are tributed to (including ‘bad bitches’) and an ode to herself when she’s drunk (‘Psycho’).
An honourable mention goes out to the support act, Nikhil D’souza, a singer songwriter from Mumbai with classical rock influences including Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan and Radiohead… Sitting on the stage with just his acoustic guitar and a bar stool playing a short but sweet acoustic set, and telling us how he recently experienced his first Nandos, he finished his set by telling the audience he can be found where most other musicians can be found, Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud along with Airbnb and CouchSurfing.
The Lexington is not a venue I was familiar with, but it is a cracking venue. A classic intimate affair, a room above a pub, with a well stocked bar (fantastic if you are a craft beer drinker), and comfy sofas in the pub itself, perfect for if you happen to arrive early and are waiting for the doors to open.
With both of the night’s acts it was impressive to see how they controlled the room. Silence. Not out of boredom, but in respect and awe of the talent on show. I expect there were many people from the industry in the room that evening, maybe keeping an eye on things to come?
I think it is safe to say Áine is definitely one to watch. Very reminiscent of Adele with a powerful voice and knowing how to use it. I highly recommend trying to see her now whilst she is playing these intimate venues before she inevitably starts performing in the larger ones!
Two days ago I had not heard of Áine Cahill, but one thing is for sure: I have now and will most certainly be buying her album!
Áine Cahill Setlist:
Shape of Cheap Thrills