Nigel Mooney one of Ireland’s national entertainment treasures brought his well crafted, jazz tinged, soulful blues to the Sugar Club on Thursday night accompanied by a big band of consummate musicianship linked with a jazzy blue sensibility.
Nigel stands on stage with the power and authority of a man confident in his own ability among eminent cohorts of the music scene Damien Evans on Bass, Johnny Taylor, Piano, Guy Rickaby Drums, Danny Healy Trumpet, Karl Rooney Saxophone and the amazing Richie Buckley who I have been enjoying at home very much recently in Sharon Shannon’s new Live at Dolan’s DVD.
There is a good up-tempo diamond tipped class about each song’s arrangement mostly from Nigel’s excellent new CD All My Loves in Vain, that is consistently refreshing, strong and inventive throughout.
Love in Vain is a superb collection of good music, played with flair and feeling from top to toe and one of my favourite presents to friends at home and abroad over the past year.
This well oiled music machine launched into a strident rousing fashionable moon dancing instrumental the minute they stepped on stage with each of the musicians attacking their individual role with verve and relish underpinned by Guy Rickaby’s rock solid and equally adept drumming technique.
I was very interested in meeting Guy as he has much in common with my teenage hero Keith Moon in that they both played drums behind Rocks great vocal belter Roger Daltrey.
On top of Nigel’s proficient fretboard fluency the icing on the cake is the wonderful chemistry of Nigel’s vocals and his very superior lyrics and it all works marvellously in the warm comfortably appreciative surroundings of the Sugar Club.
As well as familiar numbers from the All My Loves In Vain CD, Nigel introduces a classic Lowell Fulson song Love Grows Cold giving it that traditional West Coast groove highlighting the fact that Richie Buckley and he shared a memorable stage in Dublin with the prolific and legendary Bluesman back in the late eighties.
Whether its old standards like Sammy Cain’s Teach Me Tonight or Willie Dixon’s I Am Ready, the arrangements are dynamic, free from excess and full of excitement and melodic soulful goodtime tone with Nigel’s voice particularly well suited for getting inside the nostalgic lyric’s which in turn illustrate the sulty silky sexy edge of his infectious vocal on songs like Ray Charles’s I Got A Woman.
Nigel has paid his dues and it seems like several lifetimes ago when we all piled on the 19.25 out of Donabate on a Friday night for the place to be, The Gripewater Blues Band weekly residency in JJ’Smyth’s to hear the real deal on guitar back in the early 80’s.
Over the years this fine player has been a pleasure to listen to swerving away from the rock excesses and producing interesting, insightful and thoughtful mature and mellow music with a solid crew around him.
The retro swing and masterly guitar playing with Saxmen Richie Buckley, Karl Rooney and Trumpeter Danny Healy’s horns riffing behind him as he ranges from tricky single string riffs to blistering propulsive left on blue chord phrasing bursts makes him a guitarist’s guitarist these days.
The show came to a close with the smooth rich flowing mellifluous Beautiful Day revealing how uptown and strong his own material is and a hopeful expectation for the future, that it won’t be long until he repeat’s the prescription.
The extremely well received performance featuring this local guitar slinger of note, with his distinctive emotion charged vocals and a very tight unit finishing each number with pin point accuracy got a standing ovation until they returned for a classic encore Everyday I Have the Blues.
Nigel is succinct, never in your face, knows when to lay back and when to step forward and develops graceful and subtle guitar solos and thought provoking fleet fingered fretwork that attracts your attention with its diverse ideas and tasteful restraint.
The CD has a wonderful version of one song that always reminds me of the summer holidays in Wexford when all the family would gather in the ancestral home and perform a party piece and mine was Boolavogue on an old cheap F hole Egmond acoustic guitar, a far cry from the beautiful job Nigel does on it with his big warm sounding Epiphone.
If you fancy a heap of groovy fun, smoky brown tenor baritone melodic ballads and a set full of fine and varied tunes and styles backed up by musicianship of the highest calibre then treat yourself to a Nigel Mooney gig, a class act right on our own doorstep.
“I got a woman,
way over town,
That’s good to me (oh yeah)
Say i got a woman, way over town
good to me (oh yeah)
She give me money,
When I’m in need
Yeah she’s a kinda,
I got a woman, way over town,
that’s good to me (oh yeah)”
Mick Kenny aka MTW