The last time I saw a frontman/frontwoman start their gig behind the drum-kit was when I saw Lenny Kravitz in 2004. I think it’d be best for everyone if I just stop right there and never mention that gig again. Cathy Davey also chose to take a seat behind the kit for the first song of her gig in the Olympia last Friday. The beat she was banging out belonged to “Dog”, from her new album The Nameless which had just entered the Irish charts at number one earlier that day. It’s something of a brave move to start a show of this size and importance in such a way but the performance of the song was strong enough to keep the fully seated crowd happy as they strained to see Davey at the back of the stage. Out she came then in a bright red outfit to her rightful place front and centre to warm and enthusiastic applause. The next few songs were mostly taken from her second album, with “Reuben” providing the shaker-fuelled kick start the evening required. The band were scattered around an extravagant stage complete with vases full of flowers and a chaise longue which Davey used when she needed to change her shoes or just felt like having a go on the “fancy couch”. Less grand chairs were arranged in the corner awaiting the arrival of the “stringy ladies and gent” who joined in on recent single “Little Red” and helped elevate the simple tune to wide-eyed ecstasy.
Throughout the gig, Cathy is endearingly modest as she jokes about little mis-haps, spillages, forgotten intros and her sweat patch gig-rating system. Towards the end of the night, she let us in on her safety net gag as she began pulling her hair out to reveal a fake fringe extension which was then draped over her microphone. Though the set draws heavily from the chart-pop of the previous album, it is songs like “The Nameless” (which she refers to as the “serious bit”), “Bad Weather” and “Lay Your Hand” that stand out. In all the times I saw Cathy touring her previous album, I had never seen them give “Rubbish Ocean” an outing, but the full-bodied rendition of this soulful, swaying gem was definitely worth the wait. This was the big difference between previous gigs I’ve seen of hers; the scale of the whole thing. Not just that this was the largest venue I’ve seen her play, but because everything about the performance and the manner in which the songs were delivered was all magnified to great effect. If the pre-encore closer of “Moving” was a bit disco-epic, then the cover of “I Want You Back” upon their return really was something special. “Sing For Your Supper”, like several of the older songs, was given a bit of a reworking as the band belted out one last tune before making their exit from what could only be described as a fairly triumphant night.