Eleanor McEvoy

Live Review | The Salutation, Doncaster | Review by Allan Wilkinson

This was Eleanor’s second gig at the Sal and up until tonight, her first appearance went down in everybody’s books as the best yet.  Tonight Eleanor proved beyond doubt that she is the consummate performer, bringing to the stage all the elements that ultimately make a song work, in its purest form.  She can pick up a bass guitar and finger the fretboard provocatively, creating what are essentially simple melodic runs, and the voice does the rest.  You could add something else, such as a Spanish guitar played by Segovia, a sax solo by Coltrane, harmony vocals courtesy of Miss Joni herself, but I doubt it would sound as good.  The stripped down song is Eleanor’s speciality.  There was nothing throw away about any of the songs included in her two sets tonight.  Even when she forgot to turn on her electric guitar amp, which appeared to be a valve amp and required a couple of minutes warm up time, she launched into an unaccompanied Howling Wolf blues, just to fill in time, but which any self respecting white boy bluesman would be more than proud of.   Eleanor carries her Dublin roots well, which is reflected in her unique voice.  She has those familiar Irish inflections in her singing voice, not unlike Dolores O’Riordan Burton from The Cranberries, but without being forced.  As well as being a great singer, she is also something of a multi instrumentalist, accompanying herself on both electric and acoustic guitar, bass, fiddle and mandolin.  And when she’s not a-strumming, she’s a-banging (I hastily add – her guitar that is!)  Standout songs included “The Fields of Dublin 4”, “Non-Smoking Single Female”, a stunning take on Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me” and probably her most famous song “Only A Woman’s Heart”, for which she invited Ruth Wells up to duet on, showing yet another side to this remarkable woman, that of a wonderfully generous musician.  Needless to say, I am impressed with Eleanor McEvoy.  I wasn’t the only one in the audience who was impressed either judging by the unprecedented three encores.  The Doncaster crowd just wouldn’t let her get off the stage.