Mark Dignam & Very Special Guests Whelans 8th Feb 2009
Mark Dignam's friends Glen Hansard of The Swell Season and Liam O'Maonlai from The Hothouse Flowers were the special guests for Mark's first headline gig at home in about 6 years. Glen arrived on stage, checked the guitar amp which wasn't working, then sat at the front on the stage about 4 feet from me and sang completely acoustically. It was amazing to be so near to such a talent and Oscar winner! The short set included Leave, Plateau, Finally, Revelate and Raglan Road. The atmosphere was so pleasant especially after Glen asked for the music level in the bar to be lowered. Liam O'Maonlai gave a special guest four song set showcasing his amazing range of musical talent. He sang in the old Irish Séan Nós style, played a traditional Mali hand instrument as well as playing a contemporary song. Liam took his seat next to Glen at the front of the stage and after a few minutes got the sizable crowd to call for Mark to appear.
When Mark Dignam arrived on stage he introduced Cellist Kim Porcelli who accompanied him on many songs during the night. Mark's set was mainly taken from his last album Box Heart Man and the new album which he is in the process of completing. The second song was introduced by Mark as being about great sex but got a bit embarrassed when it dawned on him that his mother and sister where in the audience. When the song finished Glen asked if he could play that song about 'riding' again? Mark's main set consisted of the songs Divine, Build, Hope, Jane and Deceiver.
The special guests joined Mark and Kim for the encore of Mark's song Stormy Summer, Bob Dylan's Forever Young and The Waterboys Fisherman's Blues. The second encore was John Martyn's Over The Hill which then morphed into New England.
I have often complained about the renovation of Whelan's which I believed ruined the snug atmosphere of the place. Mark's gig totally disproved that theory with a heartfelt performance of humble folk music. I can best describe a Mark Dignam gig as food for the soul that gives weeks and months of nourishment.