Tuesday, 12 June 2012

MUSIC REVIEW: Silhouette

Magherafelt songstress Shauna Tohill brings her own brand of quirky punk rock to Derry’s Mason’s Bar

Shauna Tohill is Silhouette, and Silhouette is Shauna Tohill. As gifted and as valuable as her three band mates – violinist Rachael Boyd, drummer Connor Burnside, and double bassist John Conway – are, this collective lives and dies on the shoulders of its quirky inspiration.

It’s been a remarkable year for the Magherafelt-based songwriter. She’s sung with Snow Patrol (and played the Martha Wainwright role) on their European Tour, and her song, “Can’t Keep Up” (watch the video below), has featured in the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s ni2012 campaign. Rest assured, tonight’s set list has the song – and a good deal more, to boot, as Tohill’s high energy, joyous nature and boundless confidence reverberate around Mason’s Bar, satisfying punters of all ages.

Tohill’s brand of affable punk rock is the sort that requires a little getting used to, with her early numbers feeling like a real assault on the senses. But when she takes to the mike and leaves everyone else to handle the instrumental side of things, on numbers like “Volume Destroyed”, new single “Burning Against The Wall” and, of course, “Can’t Keep Up”, the set reaches another level altogether, approaching near brilliance. Once free from the constraints of playing a keyboard, her bouncy spirit comes straight to the fore, transcending her material in turn. The band, the crowd and Tohill herself are inspired.

Indeed, she approaches every number with such vigour, and radiates such warmth on stage, that I wish I liked the set more. Her keyboard playing and song-writing don’t quite resonate as much as her presence, chirpiness and singing, though, ultimately leaving us with a show where charisma betters the music.

Still, what charisma. And there’s much here to keep fans of indie punk music tickled, like the changing tone of “Under My Skin” (think a more vibrant and much less depressing Alanis Morissette) and the verses of “Touch Of Gold”, where Tohill’s vocals and keyboard skills and singing merge most successfully. It’s clear that she’s loving every single minute of this set, and if she brings the same verve and passion to Glasgowbury 2012, revellers could be in for a treat.