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"Collaborations" CD launch, featuring Juliet Turner, Jack L and more, Whelan's, Dublin, 10th June, 2002

When you haven't been to Whelan's for a while, you forget how small it is. When you've only heard Jack L on record, you don't realise how powerful his voice really is. When you've only ever seen Juliet Turner on the television, you've no idea just how tall she really is. Tonight was the launch party of a very special CD and it featured some of the hottest Irish talent around. The CD is called "Collaborations" and it's got new tracks by Ireland's best independent recording artists, but with a twist. All the tracks are reworked by some of Ireland's finest producers and programmers and it's for a good cause. The album is being released to help raise money and awareness for the Adi Roche Chernobyl Children's Project.

First up was The Uptown Racquet Club. Their noodlings and stylings got things underway and they managed to be interesting without ever being fabulous. Dublin has far too many instrumental rock bands flogging their wares about town at the moment and, even though these guys have put a nice, unique little stamp on things, they never really take off completely. The problem is the lack of a singer. An instrumental band are only going to keep your attention for so long and unless they are especially good, which these guys weren't, then that's not gong to be a very long time.

Brando, on the other hand, have seen their popularity soar over the past few months and, with songs like '7th October' and 'Swollen sister', that popularity is rightly justified. A great vocalist and some really rocking, catchy songs were what was needed after The URC, and that's exactly what Brando delivered. Unfortunately, 'Say you love me' never materialised but new track, 'Elevator', made up for that one blemish on an otherwise pristine set. Seeing as tonight also saw the release of Brando's new EP, the future is looking good.

Seeing Jack L in such intimate surroundings is a gift. The man has what could be Ireland's best voice ever. He can be emotive. He can be deep. He can soar. He can SING. Alone on the stage with his guitar, appearing as a special guest, the whole of Whelan's stood silent in appreciation, the only noise that didn't come from the stage was the sound of the odd jaw hitting the floor in amazement. His real interactive nature with the crowd and his unexpected comedy Kylie medley almost stole the show right out from underneath Juliet Turner's nose.

Opening her set with her own contribution to the "Collaborations" CD ('Rough lions tongue'), Ireland's other most distinctive voice proved why she was the headline act. Taller than you'd expect and soft-spoken, but comfortable, on stage, Juliet Turner really proved herself a master of the craft tonight. None of her 'big hit' songs were aired, but instead we were treated to what was probably most of the new album, and it sounds good. Backed by a full band the new songs, as well as the odd older one, filled the venue comfortably and lifted everybody on their melodious backs. The way she sang, the way she performed, her accent. Everything about her tonight was perfect. There's a natural sexiness in her voice, especially when she sings the line 'Narcissi come down to the pool'. When she sings you can hear her smiling, and you can't help but smile back. Great.

Go out and buy the CD. There are some great songs on there, and it's all for a good cause.

Ken McGrath

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