7 Jul 2020
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  • Ciaran McMeeken - Gig Review: Ciaran McMeeken & Dan Sharp @ 50 Gorillas, Dunedin - 16/02/2019

Ciaran McMeeken - Gig Review: Ciaran McMeeken & Dan Sharp @ 50 Gorillas, Dunedin - 16/02/2019

17 Feb 2019 // A review by Darryl Baser

As a disclaimer, I knew absolutely nothing about neither Ciaran McMeeken nor Dan Sharp prior to the gig, so I arranged my +1 to be Dunedin songwriter Bronwyn Halley. She’s in the same generational band as Ciaran, and as it turned out, was a very knowledgeable accomplice.

Dan Sharp opens up with Springsteen's I'm On Fire, then introduced himself; "I'm Dan Sharp, and pleased to be opening up for Ciaran on the last night of his tour before he moves Austin Texas."

Sharp is armed with an acoustic guitar, a road worn husk in his voice, and a percussive stomp box, which he kicks into life frequently.

Second song in the set is his first single from last year Lifeline.

He follows with Daylight, which he explains was recorded it in the UK last year with fellow Kiwi Thomas Oliver.

He writes, in a modern country blues style, sort of typical songwriter, and as much as I loathe comparisons and believe they’re mostly for lazy journalists, He reminds me of a Kiwi Ed Sheeran.

Kindling Coal is a slower number, which has written about a lover written all over it and is a beautiful ballad.

In announcing it he says he got an email from Spotify saying it was doing well in their statistics, and it’s easy to hear why, as it has an anthemic quality about it, especially in the repeat chorus lots at the end part.

My accomplice Bronwyn Halley told me Dan's version of The Chainsmokers song Closer, with a homage to Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody thrown in, was better than the original.

Sharp’s set was on point, at the risk of being blunt.

He closes with what he says could be his next single Bones, and a great version of the Dermott Kennedy song, After Rain.

It was the perfect supporting plot. Well played Dan.

After the briefest of pauses, Ciaran McMeeken comes on, and Bronwyn notes that both performers were on time, no making people wait. Nice professionalism.

Ciaran McMeeken must have done vocal warm-ups back stage, as his first tune Light It Up stretched his considerable vocal range.

Which he follows with the first of the songs written with Dan Sharp, called Stay, which McMeeken says was “written with Dan Sharp with you the audience in mind, we've all had different weeks and now we're here, so it's a song to welcome you to this space."

Pure Intentions, another song written with Dan Sharp ... Gosh darn they write great feel good pop songs.. America is going to love him. And he is just a bit gorgeous.

Ciaran loops a chord phrase and beat box part, drops it in and out adding parts as he goes, he’s a really expert looper which comes to the fore on Don't Lie To Me.

The next song was written in Amsterdam called Wi-Fi. He described it as cringy, but now says it is one of his favourite songs to play. It's a ridiculously catchy song and could be an international hit. It is as catchy and current of any Ed Sheeran acoustic guitar driven pop song.

He then launches into Adele's Someone Like You. There's singing along, especially after he mentions that Christchurch was louder. A good Adele sing along and not a single node or vocal injury in sight.

He sits at the Piano to begin the song Boy and he dedicates it to “anyone who is going through something tricky in their lives.” It's a well composed ballad and it showcases his skills on the keyboards too. The audience is hushed.

It would be east to discount a song called sexy, particularly when sung by an attractive, confident young man, as fluff, and sexist. However, McMeeken partially explained the lyrics beforehand and the line: "this ain't misogynistic or alpha male bullshit" outlines the song’s intent quite well.

He is ready for the states, he totally knows how to work a crowd and shows the crowd how and when to sing along in a chorus.

Dan Sharp returns for a duet, which McMeeken describes as a song about being present. This time tomorrow the pair wrote it in Queenstown just before winter. It’s a bloody good song about being in the moment with people you're with. The two gents harmonise very well, and clearly are good buds.

Dan leaves and Ciaran says he’s “gonna ramp things up” and "he's not playing until people come up and dance." His great stage technique, charm, and ways of gentle persuasion work, people come up the front to dance and sing along. Which Way Shall We Go? is another great song, as is who I am follows, and it’s another crowd favourite.

Talented, confident, but not arrogant, a good songwriter, entertaining, and did I mention gorgeous. By the time he launches into City he has the crowd eating out of his hands and clapping along...Spanish steps, begins slowly, and it is yet another beautiful song.

Tidal Wave is among the final song or three, and by this stage I’m finding him annoyingly talented.

He sings a song which he describes as being written just down the road in Princess Street. He sings it to his parents who are in the room, they sing too, and there are a few moist eyes. Seeing the deep aroha and pride in his father’s eyes as Ciaran sang was beautiful. It is a beautiful moment.

Evidence of McMeeken’s Dunedin roots is available at this YouTube video from 2015 when he recorded a version of Boy in Dunedin’s Pot Pourri cafe.

 

About Ciaran McMeeken

Ciaran McMeeken is an Auckland, NZ based musician and song writer.

Ciaran was raised in Arrowtown, New Zealand, and has been playing music since he was 11 years old. After moving to Dunedin for secondary school, Ciaran started playing drums and then switched to guitar and singing a few years later. His introduction to music and his rapid development as a songwriter came at a surprise to those around him given that he does not come from a musical family.

Ciaran recently moved to Auckland to focus on his music, spending the last two years writing, recording and performing. His debut EP The Valley caught the attention of acclaimed producer Greg Haver, who worked with Ciaran to produce the highly anticipated Screaming Man.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ciaran McMeeken

Releases

The Stories We Live
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Ciaran McMeeken
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Screaming Man
Year: 2015
Type: EP
The Valley
Year: 2014
Type: EP

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