Live review: Sparrow and the Workshop, Martin John Henry at Sleazy’s, 23/11/11

It has been quite a while since I saw Sparrow and the Workshop play live and that night my mind was in another place.


The show was in basement of Oran Mor with an incarnation of Three Blind Wolves also on the bill, while upstairs was Emiliani Torrini.

Simple to say I was gutted to miss the Icelandic songstress and seeing possibly the most addictive song ever live in ‘Jungle Drum’.

Needless to say that night I didn’t fully appreciate what Sparrow have to offer, tonight though they grasp my attention along with everyone else’s, tonight they are simply captivating.

First though is the by no means small matter of Martin John Henry, and the former De Rosa man is riding the crest of wave on the back of his brilliant new album, The Other Half of Everything.

From chilled and calm to powerful and awe inspiring MJH and band seem to have it all, there are moments in the set tonight where they capture everything perfectly.

But ultimately they’re in a support slot and don’t quite get the respect they deserve, with quieter songs seeming to have an unflattering backdrop of conversation.

Still, Henry is clear, engrossing and attention grabbing as his Scottish vocals peak over dreamy soundscapes, although the somewhat nasal backing vocals from the drummer do grate ever so slightly.

But, full credit to the band by the end of the set they seem to have won over the audience as ‘There’s a Phantom Hiding In My Loft’ receives the respect it deserves but all a touch late.

MJH is definitely one that people will revisit when there isn’t an impatient crowd to win over.

The venue hits silence almost immediately as Sparrow take the stage and Jill O’Sullivan’s distinctive, powerful vocal pours into a packed Sleazy’s basement.

It’s no coincidence that tonight is packed, these guys have such a following for a reason; they have originality in abundance, the vocal delivery in phenomenal, the band tight, the music captivating and the drummer’s tash amazing.

Addictive classic rock rhythms bolster an acoustic guitar, as O’Sullivan yelps above it all to an audience who lap it all up.

A cover of Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ brings an engaging insight into the band’s sound as the twang in O’Sullivan’s voice captures the track brilliantly.

It really is only until you witness this band in full swing that you appreciate how good they are, the records are great but this is just a different level.

It is one of those shows you could stand and watch for another hour but as the set ends in wonderful style with the audience are growing more and more into the music with every note, you know the band have confirmed themselves as one of the best this city has to offer.

Take these guys for granted at your own loss.

Photos: Emma Levy

More photos


One thought on “Live review: Sparrow and the Workshop, Martin John Henry at Sleazy’s, 23/11/11”

  1. I’ve been to some pretty good gigs and seen some pretty big bands…this goes down as one of the best I’ve seen/heard. Never heard De Rosa before or MJH but instantly clicked with his new band, will defo be checking both out…. and then Sparrow came on to blow the place apart. Fantastic. Not forgetting Two Wings who opened the evening too…great night all round. An evening of quality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *