Bap's gig at the Barge, Belfast was reviewed in Culture NI. The text of the review is as follows:
'This is a Christmas song,' announces Bap Kennedy, tongue firmly in cheek, before his opening tune at the Belfast Barge, the countrified ‘Domestic Blues’.
The audience get the joke – a Kennedy classic, 'Domestic Blues' doesn’t reference Christmas at all, but does contain lines like 'I’ve got to get out of this house before I hurt you', which strikes a chord with those who had but narrowly survived their Christmas family get-togethers.
The wit is typical, Kennedy being a warm and engaging performer who is tonight accompanied by a trio. A songwriter of unusual range, his songs are variously about astronauts and country music, Elvis Presley and Chilean miners, the cosmos, death and aging, and, perhaps more predictably, romance and the vicissitudes of love.
A partisan crowd cheers delightedly the announcement of every song, including the poignant ‘Jimmy Sanchez’, which Kennedy partly sings in the persona of a trapped miner, reflecting on his predicament and vowing to change his ways.
Kennedy’s guitar playing is bog-standard, but the song features an exquisite and perfectly apposite solo from the impressively versatile acoustic guitarist Gordon McAllister, whose playing throughout the gig is exceptional.
Other old favourites include the introspective ‘The Blue One’, which Kennedy explains was inspired by a photo of Planet Earth taken from outer space, and ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’, a song about Elvis, which Kennedy describes as 'a cautionary tale in three verses'.
But there are also several never before played songs from Kennedy’s upcoming album Let’s Start Again. On ‘If Things Don’t Change’ – apparently about a faltering relationship – Kennedy sings bleakly, 'If you could see the future, it would break your heart', with McAllister contributing an acerbic slide guitar solo, while ‘Under My Wing’ is sung tenderly, and ‘Heart Trouble’ sounding like an Elvis classic.
Kennedy also has, as he acknowledges, a couple of 'Hank moments', and his covers of the Hank Williams standards ‘Ramblin’ Man’ and ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ are compelling. The latter slides thrillingly into Van Morrison’s ‘Madame George’, which is here mesmerising. 'I wrote that!' declares Kennedy cheekily afterwards.
Bradso, from Kennedy’s early power pop band 10 Past 7, guests on mandolin on several songs, including the wittily agnostic, John Prine-like ‘Return To Jesus’ and new single ‘Revelation Blues’, the evening’s rockiest performance. 'One more song and then we’re going to eat chocolate,' Kennedy jokes, before a rousing cover of ‘Hey Joe’ concludes a wonderful gig.
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As reported in Gigging NI...
Bap returned to The Barge, Belfast on 29 Dec 2013 where he performed with full band to a packed house.
Permanently moored behind the Waterfront Hall in the country’s captial resides the Belfast Barge, equipped with a restaurant up-top and a delightfully brilliant little venue down below. With this having been my first visit to Belfast’s hidden gem, I was mesmerized by its intimate environment right down to the metal bolts on the sides of the ship. Back to get the Belfast Barge swaying was Bap Kennedy, who sold the venue out to capacity to bring the festive celebrations to a close for 2013.
To warm everyone up for the main showcase on a December’s winter night was Mandy Bingham, who performed alongside her husband Graham. Kicking off with ‘Good Girl Blues’, the pair performed harmonies to perfection to coincide with toe-tapping acoustic rhythms. Mandy’s ability to hold notes vocally works well with the twang of the guitar and slider to create almost addictive country blues music. “That’s for you Ronnie ” was an apt tribute to Bingham’s father, after performing one of his songs, written in 1967, entitled ‘Harlem Lady’. If this show is anything to go by, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear more from the Bingham duo if show experience is built upon and persistence is enforced.
Dressed in a shirt woven with skulls and roses, Bap Kennedy walked on stage with his wife Brenda and fellow bandmates to a collective applause in the small surroundings of the Barge. Launching into ‘Domestic Blues’, the foot starts tapping almost subconsciously to the sound of Bap’s self-proclaimed Christmas song, creating the audience’s buoyant mood. The charm of the performer is more than enough to put a smile on your face but the country blues endeavour to ignite an even better atmosphere. “Unforgiven” goes down a storm alongside new tracks ‘If Things Don’t Change’ and ‘Radio Waves’ off Bap’s next album, entitled “Let’s Start Again”, due out February 2014. Talk of Sputnik and Voyager 1 interests (as well as confuses) the crowd as “The Blue One” sparks the band into action yet again. A particular highlight of the night for me was “Cold War Country Blues” – an adrenalin fuelled track whiched rounded the night off perfectly in my eyes. With a new album due out early next year, it will be exciting to see how next year treats Bap Kennedy.
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Click here to read the review on GiggingNI
Below is a review recently posted from Bap's gig in Petersfield.
Take a look at your iTunes playlists. Nestling in there is a preset one called Top 25 Most Played. I glanced at mine yesterday. Four Bap Kennedy titles (Sweet Smell of Success, Milky Way, Streetwise and America from Howl On.) Last time I peeped in, a year ago, The Sweet Smell of Success was number one, though it’s slipped to number four. (OK, number one is Shaky by The Duke & The King, then Quicksilver Girl by Steve Miller Band, then Shoo-Rah Shooh-Rah by Betty Wright. I’m playing Sweet Dancer by The Waterboys so much nowadays that it’s going to be joining them soon, as will Jimmy Sanchez from Bap Kennedy) iTunes is not the sum of my listening, I mainly play CDs and 45s, but it is what gets played in the car and on the computer.
So on my playlist, he’s with The Band, Paul Simon, Van Morrison, Robbie Robertson, The Duke & The King, The Decemberists and Rolf Harris. Oops. I should explain that when I take my 6-year old grandson to school, his personalized Playlist is exclusively Rolf Harris, which gives Rolf a boost into unexpected company.
In some alternative reality, Bap Kennedy is deservedly rubbing shoulders with the same crowd and headlining at 3000 seaters as one of the great singer-songwriters, which indeed he is. He has that rare commodity, the instant signature voice. Whatever he touches, you know it’s him as soon as he starts.
I’ve never got to see him play until tonight, and it was one of those outstanding musical experiences. First off the venue, the Folly Wine Bar in Petersfield, between Portsmouth and Guildford.The tickets advertised “with dinner”. At £20 for dinner and concert, we were expecting a scrawny chicken leg in a basket with chips. Not so. You arrive at seven, for the show at eight. There’s four choice menu, table service, free water (always a plus), a welcoming and friendly atmosphere, and if I’d just gone there to have dinner for the whole price of the evening, I’d have come home delighted. Great tempura prawns and salad, nicely cooked salmon. Great sight lines, an intimate atmosphere and we even got to hear the soundcheck (The Right Stuff) while we were waiting. The venue runs a series called The Square Sessions, and we’ll be back for more, even given a 65-mile drive. It was a sell-out well in advance. However, the audience size was even smaller than Simone Felice at Winchester last year, and like Simone, Bap was so good, in such a relaxed, intimate setting, that I’m going to start checking these smaller venues a lot more carefully.
I’ve put the album titles on the set list. I had a problem with that. I stopped writing down titles a while ago, but it was so relaxed, I was sitting at a table, I had a flier and a pencil, that I tried. When I got back, I can’t read the title of the last song of the first set, and it’s a nagging toothache trying to remember it. It looks like three words. I had a feeling he’d played Working Man, but that’s so familiar because I’ve been playing the Sailor’s Revenge album so much, that I don’t know. He told such a good anecdote about working on building sites, and mentioned building sites elsewhere, that it may be false memory. On which, part of the live experience is hearing stuff between the songs, and something about the subject matter. It brings everything to life. So many don’t bother at all (Dylan, Van Morrison) that I really appreciate those who communicate directly with the audience, as Bap Kennedy did, and tell us something about themselves and their music and lyrics.
I have everything I’ve been able to get my hands on by Bap Kennedy (includingHillbilly Shakespeare which took some finding, though it’s now on Bap Kennedy’s website as a downloadable), so I wasn’t able to buy a CD and get it signed. A tip from the Simone Felice show, is that the fans are so dedicated, that it’s worth having a limited edition live album on sale only at gigs. A lot have almost everything else anyway.
The second surprise was one I’ve only had at Van Morrison concerts. You walk in with five songs you’re longing to hear (in this case, Milky Way, Sweet Smell of Success, Streetwise, Lost Highway, The Sailor’s Revenge title track) and he plays not one of them, and you still come away totally satisfied with what you’ve heard. In fact, The Big Picture, which I thought his best-known album, didn’t get visited at all.
The sound was excellent. Brenda Kennedy plays bass guitar and does backing vocals, and Gordon McAllister is a superb, empathetic guitarist. His fluid mellow lines replaced the range of instruments on the records. At times I thought it jazzy, then folk inspired, then I heard touches of Mark Knopfler, then in one song, Robbie Robertson. He’s an astonishingly good player. A drummerless three piece works with good bass (I’m thinking Rick Danko solo, or early Hot Tuna) and it did with Brenda Kennedy. I like it, as I liked John Mayall’s drummerless band. In all these acoustic guitars (amplified) blend with bass guitar and no one thinks about the drums. I wondered if the set list was geared towards having a three piece. The Sailor’s Revenge title track has so much else on it, that it would be a reason to avoid it live, but I was listening to the song driving home, and it’d work fine with just this three piece. Why no The Big Picture tracks? I don’t know. When we write these things we look for motives and reasons, which is why people like Van Morrison get annoyed with reviewers. I suspect it’s simply finding space for The Sailor’s Revenge songs (five, or six if the illegible note was Working Man) so trying to form a new setlist when there are so many ‘must play’ songs. It usually takes a while to settle what comes in on a regular basis, and what becomes less frequently visited.
Both Steve Earle and Mark Knopfler, his stellar producers got namechecked more than once. It was Knopfler who persuaded him to re-do The Right Stuff onThe Sailor’s Revenge. There were a couple of surprises. Someone had requested the old Energy Orchard song Sailortown (which I only have on the Rare, Live & Bladdered CD).
Judging audience reaction, which was always enthusiastic, it rose a definite notch on Please Return to Jesus. Maybe that’s partly audience self congratulation because it’s a semi-singalong, but I suspect it’s going to work as a live staple for him for a long time. In some ways, artistes never discover their most popular live stuff until they take the songs on the road, then they become essentials. Please Return to Jesus is going to do that.
I look forward to the next time I see him. If you’re doing those star ratings, five.
(To read the full review, set list,comments etc click here)
Bap’s song "Revelation Blues" (from his new album Let's Start Again,coming 3 Feb) has just been released as a single. This is the first time in his solo career that Bap has ever released a single.
Listen to Revelation Blues on Soundcloud
Buy Revelation Blues on i-tunes
NB Bap’s new album “Let’s Start Again” (coming 3 Feb) can be pre-ordered from
The Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2014.
The event will run from 28 Feb to 9th March and will feature a range of songwriters, both local & international.
Bookending the festival will be Donovan who opens the festival on 28th Feb and Bap Kennedy whose concert on 9 March closes the festival.
BBC Radio Ulster's Ralph McLean interviewed Belnash organiser Colin Magee on 11 Dec 2013.
Click here to listen again to the full interview.
Click here for festival details, tickets etc
The very first review for Bap's forthcoming album (3 Feb) has just come in from prestigious online publication Folkwords.........
Bap Kennedy is one of those gifted singer-songwriters seemingly able to morph their talent at will drifting into and across a range of genres, both for their own solo work and in conjunction with other artists. His latest album ‘Let’s Start Again’ (the 6th offering of his solo material) slides his singular ability away from familiar Celtic directions and closer to Americana folk – and the result is an exceptionally listenable album. ‘Let’s Start Again’ exerts a compelling, soothing melodic lure made all the more gripping by sharply formed lyrics.
There’s a laid-back relaxed feel coming through the richly, layered melodies engendered no doubt through the talented list of performers joining Bap on the album. The weave they lay behind his vocals and lyrics is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The team includes Brenda Boyd Kennedy (electric bass) Gordy McAllister (acoustic lead, electric lead and slide guitar) John McCullough (keyboards, accordion) John Fitzpatrick (fiddle) Noel Lenaghan (mandolin) Rabb Bennett (drums) Richard Nelson (pedal steel, dobro) Trevor Dyer (stand-up and stick bass) and Vinty Gilbert (banjo).
Opening with the reflective, lyrically tough title track ‘Let’s Start Again’ takes a long hard look at reality and fighting in the face of time. There’s a gear-shift into the ‘rootsy’ pulse of ‘Revelation Blues’ and ‘If Things Don’t Change’ before a distinct Latin twist hits out through the groove of ‘King of Mexico’. The lazily, somnolent ‘Radio Waves’ continues the lyrical richness “I’ve fallen in love but I think I’m over the worst. Music can save you but it might try to kill you first.” And then there’s excruciating self-examination of ‘Strange Kid’ while the definitive observation in ‘Let it Go’ speaks volumes.
‘Let’s Start Again’ is another album for your collection - without doubt .
Reviewer: Dan Holland
Click here to preorder Let's Start Again
Bob Harris (BBC Radio 2) has given another brand new Bap song its first UK Radio play on his Sunday show today.
The song - "IF THINGS DON'T CHANGE" is from Bap's forthcoming new album. You can hear it via the following BBC iplayer link at 2 hours 35 minutes in:
Bap's new album Let's Start Again is available here, and is also available as a deluxe 2 CD version here or a vinyl LP here
Bap Kennedy will be performing at the Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen on 28 Mar 2014.
As part of the set, he will be performing songs from his new album "Let's Start Again" which is due for release on 3 Feb 2014.
Click here for info & tickets
Bap Kennedy will be performing at Flowerfield Arts Centre Portstewart on 6 Mar 2014.
As part of the set, he will be performing songs from his new album "Let's Start Again" which is due for release on 3 Feb 2014
Info & tickets from -
Ph 028 7083 1400