Artist: Marty O’Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra
Venue: The Square Tower
Date: 18th June 2016
It is not often that you come across a truly unique talent, but at this intimate historic venue, for yet another sell out gig under the inimitable Square Roots Promotions banner, we were privileged indeed to witness the penultimate UK tour gig of Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra. The four piece outfit from California have the eponymous front man on resonator guitar and vocals, maestro Chris Lynch on fiddle, Matt Goff, drums and Ben Berry on double bass.
Reverend Gary Davis’ “I Heard The Angels” from their current EP “Preach ‘Em Now” set the bar with Marty’s haunting, anguished vocal on this Gospel, for all the world sounding as if emanating during an exorcism, underpinned by the band’s trademark sound of stunningly evocative fiddle playing. “Dempsey” from debut release “Pray For Rain” came next with lovely lyric about the legendary boxer, embellished with more intricate fiddle.
Some new material too, with a fine “Come And Go Heartbeat” featuring that throbbing double bass, getting a rousing reception from the enthralled crowd. A personal favourite up next, with a wonderfully different and vibrant rendition of “Smokestack Lightning”. It lurched into life with some ghostly fiddle, before building in intensity and ferocity to see the band in full flow, with the pulsating bass doubling up as a beat box, and Marty crouched flailing over his resonator, finally shuddering to an orgasmic crescendo and tumultuously rapturous applause.
Light and shade too with another new creation “Stereoscope” with that broken, plaintive vocal redolent of a young Joe Cocker whilst possessed by the spirits. The gypsy style violin added tonal depth and nuance to an evocative lyric about “Filling in the gaps about someone you don’t know very well”. Tom Wait’s “Chocolate Jesus”, recently impressively covered by Beth Hart, was another stunner with punchy percussion, more exotic fiddle touches and that cajoling, elemental vocal ended a wonderful first set.
Another favourite, “Letters” from the debut release, got us back into action with compelling percussion work and a catchy evocative vocal, segueing into an impressive free form modern groove Blues with resonator slide, demonic fiddle with the band totally at the mercy of their 1970’s style muse. “When The Water Runs Out” had a “Django style Swing influence” before the immense “Pray For Rain” title track complete with enthused audience participation.
A seminal “Cold Canary Gaslight”, the subject of the band’s first ever video release announcing their birth to the world, is core to their essence with its soulful, almost surreal vocal soaring above that velvety carpet of trance Blues. All too soon another new track to close with a capo on Marty’s resonator, and hypnotic percussion work punctuated by a revved up fiddle.
A fiercely demanded encore saw the band right on curfew, but exiting the stage to come down to the centre of the room surrounded by the host of new fans, they completed a superb and memorable night with another rousing Gospel, “Up Above My Head”, featuring a fine double bass solo and obligatory crowd refrain. In the high ceilinged room, fans were on the stage and promoter Ken Brown could look down from the gallery on to the throng soaking up the vibes of yet another memorable night.
A fusion of primal Delta Blues with Soul and folk threads, and that incredible gut wrenching quite unique, emotive vocal timbre, this band are as different and as good as it gets. These personable and approachable guys become transformed on stage, possessed with a passion and energy that sweeps you along with them in a sonic torrent. Make sure you catch them on their intended return next year.
Photos Courtesy of: Graham Winslade
What The Audience Said…
“A fabulous night! Well done! What fantastic musicians!” (Paul Wild)
“Great night!” (Graham Winslade)
“What can I say – just another incredible gig! What a great live band!” (Robert Finch)
“Great night at the Square Tower. Thanks for another great night’s entertainment!” (John Bever)