Live : Damien Dempsey / Ian Prowse


You wake up the day after a great gig and your mind is running on the mental images and sounds of it, and your spirits are still lifted.

This concert at Liverpool's O2 Academy 2 was somewhere north of magnificent from the point Ian Prowse took the stage for his extraordinary support set, until the crowd eventually stopped singing the final refrain of Damien Dempsey's last song, a long time after the man himself had left the stage.

Ian Prowse has a song catalogue that can be plundered for live treasure - he did that here, ranging from 90's Pele classics to material off his soon-to-be-released next album, Here I Lie. Playing acoustically, with two members of his band Amsterdam at his side, the sheer energy and charisma Prowse brought to the performance meant every second of his stage-time was compelling to watch. He left one key song unsung, saved for later.

Damien Dempsey's set was a swirling full force gale of emotive music. Backed by a four piece band driven by John Reynolds' emphatic, imperious drumming, he took the audience from attentive congregation to full voiced choir in an instant, and that is where they stayed for the full ninety minutes; Apple of My Eye offering the peak moment of rapture.

Dempsey's songs are deeply moral symphonies of the street; watching him sing them it's impossible not to be moved, and sharing the communion he has with his audience is inescapable. Not a word went unsung by the crowd, and there was not a note of the music you wouldn't want to live again if you could.

There was a special, unforced magic to the encore, which reached its own crescendo when Ian Prowse returned to the stage with Demspey for a rousing The Auld Triangle and Prowse's own Does this train stop on Merseyside - the latter, with the two singer-songwriters trading verses, given what must be its most majestic and hymnal ever reading.

Dempsey closed the evening alone - the healing mantra 'love yourself, today' of It's All Good resonating out into, and back from, the hall.

It was an absurdly great night; my heart is still singing from it two days later, and will be for a good while yet.