The singer, guitarist and songwriter provides a welcome tonic for the post-Christmas blues
Paul Casey is a reliable performer. You know what you are going to get with him: relatable, well-intoned lyrics mixed with catchy guitar riffs, be they acoustic or electric.
Such workmanlike consistency is not a bad thing, and it has built him a strong fanbase over the years.
In the Corinthian Ballroom of Derry-Londonderry’s City Hotel, Casey performs with a big band behind him. The title track from his new album, Big World, is a wonderfully, refreshingly chilled out number, with few lyrics but very effective instrumental harmonies.
Casey maintains the standard early set with crowd favourite 'Different Planet', which benefits immensely from the richer sound offered by keyboard player, John McCullough, guitarist Martin Barr, bassist John Hodge and, perhaps most significantly, backing vocalist and drummer Liam Bradley.
Casey's new songs, such as 'Hindsight', mix seamlessly with the recognisable beats of the foot-tapping 'Something’s Gotta Give' from previous album Songs in Open Tuning, and the spirit-raising 'Slow Water'. These tunes are given a real jazzy beat by McCullough. The overall effect is sublime.
At times Casey seems to be rather overwhelmed by the rapturous reception he receives from this Derry crowd. He possesses a brand of affable charm, however, that leaves you keen to hear more of the same.
These are tunes that are easy to sing along to, and work very well in such an imposing venue. The atmosphere of a laidback, late night set is most welcome.
When a tune threatens to drag on too long (as is sometimes the case), or monotony threatens to sink in, Casey and his colleagues come to the rescue with a change of tone. This is most evident in the waltzy 'We Will Sing', the breezy 'I Do' and the solemn, personal 'Green Arrows', all of which are well appreciated.
Casey's final number is 'Storm In A Teacup', which leaves so many people dancing at the front of the ballroom that it gig suddenly resembles a folk-indie disco. Clearly, his frothy, undemanding and unabashedly unpretentious music is the perfect tonic for the post-Christmas blues.