On Sunday night, Irish singer-guitarist-songwriter Brian Kennedy played a tiny venue in Fife, the Inn at Lathones. Mrs Hideous and I were amongst the fifty people crammed in to the former stable-block, now music-venue, for his nearly two-hour set.
Kennedy, backed by Eddi Reader on vocals and occasional percussion, played a rich variety of his own material (folk and pop), songs from other bands he's worked with, classic Scottish and Irish folk tunes, and one of Reader's Burns renditions too.
I've seen Kennedy a couple of times before, and they have been mixed experiences. When solo - or with one or two acoustic musicians he has shone, when going down a more pop route with a conventional rock band, he has been good, but lacking the distinctiveness that marks him out as a great talent. At the Inn at Lathones on Sunday, he was in sparkling form. His soaring voice will always be his trademark, and he sang with range, power, delicacy, emotion and quite breathtaking control. He's a surprisingly good guitarist too, not just strumming his way aggressively through the upbeat tunes like "Curragh of Kildare" but picking his way with great sensitivity through heartbreaking numbers like "The Ballad of Killilooe".
Kennedy and Reader was a fabulous combination (she sang many of the backing vocals on Kennedy's best album The Great War of Words") and she wasn't intrusive, but added some gorgeous harmonies to the overall sound. Kennedy himself seemed more at ease playing a small venue than last we saw him, in a large hall when he looked angst ridden and ill at ease. At Lathones he was relaxed, and clearly enjoying pleasing a crowd obviously full of many of his die-hard fans. We only have a couple of his albums, yet neither Mrs H or I could think of a time in which two hours flew by so fast. A top-notch gig.
I've never been to the Inn at Lathones before, and its not somewhere that you'd stumble across, located between St Andrews and Cupar in the depths of Fife. It's where Mundell music have re-located their gigs to from The Famous Beinn Inn in Glenfarg. It's a great little venue too - and if this gig was indicative of the quality on offer, I'll be back.
The following clip (from the inevitable YouTube) is a video of his from 1990. Alternatively see http://video.yahoo.com/watch/2020000/v2143469