Live review: New Life presents Dirty Keys, How to Swim, Michael Cassidy, Siobhan Wilson at Captains Rest, 9/2/12

First up tonight is Siobhan Wilson, whose beautiful soft vocals and melodic guitar draw rapturous attention from the small crowd.


The short but lovely set includes a couple of covers, including an amazing version of ‘I Get Along Without You’, as well as songs off Wilson’s latest album, Songs.

Up next is Michael Cassidy, another solo acoustic singer whose Paisley accent brings a distinctly Scottish feel to his otherwise Americana-influenced guitar music.

The still small crowd give his set a lovely intimate feel, and the upbeat ‘Dancing at the Devil’s Door’ and the nostalgic lyrics to ‘15 Years’ are a lively end to his set.

Tonight’s headliners are Dirty Keys, who are at great pains to point out that there is no “The” in front of their name.

Their punchy piano pop is in complete contrast to the relaxing acoustic stylings of the last two acts and the crowd fills the tiny basement in an effort to capture some of their energy.

While the whole set is upbeat, it varies from slightly more melancholy songs such as the YouTube hit ‘Casanova’ up to the finger-blurring piano playing of ‘The Exit’, then takes in the comedic toe-tapping ‘Total Catastrophe’.

The band’s cheery attitude keeps the personal feel that is a familiar part of most gigs here, the powerful set-closer ‘For Anemone’ leaves the crowd satisfied.

Finally comes How to Swim, whose eight members and multitude of instruments crowd onto the undersized stage, which is clearly designed for smaller bands.

After a steady start to make sure everything’s in tune the band explode into song with a momentum that continues for the whole set.

Even between songs instruments still sound and the band chat away, and for half an hour the basement is a genuine whirlwind of noise.

The energy continues right to the last song, the slightly dark ‘Ink Wilson’s World of Fear’, and the crowd who stay to see How to Swim are suitably impressed.

Tonight’s gig contains a strange mix of sounds and genres, but each band has been great in their unique ways, considering the promoter’s, Gerry Blythe, problems in booking this show (two bands cancelling) the night can be put down as nothing but a success.

Words: Katherine Haig
Photos: Emma Levy

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