Raise Your Hand to the Company Man

A list of words or phrases I really should try to avoid when describing Michael J Sheehy:

Dark
Gothic
Tom Waits
Tortured
Demons
Faustian

There will also not be any references to hellhounds on anybody’s trail or going down to any crossroads whatsoever, ok?

Michael J Sheehy

So, I went to see Michael J Sheehy of (brief) Dream City Film Club fame at the Guildhall last week, for this month’s Acoustica evening. In an uncharacteristic attempt to do some homework for the event I downloaded his new album from Emusic beforehand; but in more characteristic fashion didn’t really get round to listening to much of it before going. As it turned out, though, I’m kinda glad I didn’t get round to it, because the album’s fine, but considerably less edgy and compelling than watching the man himself.

I’m not sure if it was because a friend who knew him mentioned that Sheehy was a bit of a dangerous character or whether it was just the fact that he launched into his set with none of the niceties of the previous acts, but there was definitely a whiff of sulphur in the air, as soon as he started. I like a bit of an edge to a performer and I’m not that fussed about chitchat with the audience, actually – as far as I’m concerned no banter is definitely better than lame banter – so I was quite happy to see Sheehy and his band launch into their first few songs with no introduction.

Great songs they were too, drawing you in with his unrelentingly despondent and tormented outlook on life, which harked back to some of the great Country & Western songs and singers of the past. He also used a lot of church and biblical imagery too which again reminded me of the classic sinner-or-saint struggles of the early rockers.

He was backed by a really tight band, who (rather wonderfully) went by the name of the Hired Mourners and who drove Sheehy on with a well rehearsed but clunky rhythm. They included one man on acoustic bass, a really cool drummer and (brilliantly) one blessed individual who alternated between banjo, pedal-steel and wah-wah guitar and looked suspiciously like a brother. He was great. Sheehy’s gravelly voice was also well complimented by a woman, singing backing vocals, but whose name I’m afraid I didn’t catch. Apologies to her, she really added something to the performance.

All in all, it was a really great set, the best I’ve seen for a while, my favourite part being one of the last songs, “So Long Sorrow Town”, which mutated effortlessly into a rather spiteful version of “The Passenger”.

Really if you get a chance to see him (and he seems to be touring at the moment), I would, it’d be well worth your money. I’m posting a few tracks which I think I bagged from the Myspace page but which no longer appear to be there, and as I said his current album and the previous ones are available here on Emusic.

Michael Jnr

Donkey Ride straight to Hell

Love me

There, not a mention of Tom Waits to be seen (apart from the one at the start)…

Well, and this one obviously…

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sfenn
    Apr 20, 2007 @ 22:08:00

    Thanks for the heads up. I didn’t realise he had a new one out. I’ve enjoyed his past stuff, as well as Dream City Filmclub. Saw him open for Peter Murphy and he was pretty intense.

    Reply

  2. Rich
    Apr 25, 2007 @ 17:37:00

    Hi there Sweeny,i was a big fan of Sheehy in my younger years, he’s quite a fantastic songwriter…wanted to go to this but i was ill! I like your blog, good on ya – is it named from the Robert Wyatt song lyric!? It’s a great album, Rock Bottom! I’m from Cheltenham and i’ve been to many of those gigs, and i’m putting on some gigs on in may, and the occasional club night, too….check them out if you wish…MAY 24th at Slak Bar, Cheltenham – SIMON FINN(Legendary Psyche Folk Troubadour) EDD DONOVAN(You know him!)MEN DIAMLER(Me. I am trouble)Z+(alt country as in west country)MAY 31st at Slak Bar, CheltenhamARRINGTON DE DIONYSO(crazy beefheartian throatsinging genius)IGNATZ(weird belgian folk wizard)MOTOR GHOST(Improvised duo included legendary Alex Neilson, who has drummed with Scatter, Will Oldham and Jandek)MEN DIAMLER(Me. I am trouble)They are both a fiver entry…details on the myspace….www.myspace.com/chaptertwentyfourany more info email me atmendiamler at googlemail dot com!take care sir,rich

    Reply

  3. Sweeny
    Apr 25, 2007 @ 20:26:15

    God bless you, sir! Don’t get many comments on here!Yes, it is the Robert Wyatt lyric, am a bit of a fan, although to be honest it was merely the lyric that happened to be floating around in my head on the day I decided to start the blog. Could just as easily have been Dress Sexy at my Funeral…Count me in for your gigs, and I’ll ask a couple of friends.Cheers!

    Reply

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