Katell Keineg, Whelans, Dublin, 11th October 2002
Whelans, despite its bohemian charms, is not the ideal place to hold this kind of a gig. First of all, it's too small. Katell Keineg has been a regular fixture on the Dublin live circuit for some time now and has gained a significant fan base. Whelans' organisers have done their best by organising two gigs on consecutive nights, but, despite this, the venue is uncomfortably jammers. Secondly, the constant hum of chatter from the bar at the back and the unavoidable clanking of glasses by the bar staff detracts attention from the somewhat timid but beguiling presence of Ms Keineg on stage.
Still, you could have heard a pin drop at times and should one have fallen, it would've been told to shush by a pocket of intense devotees. It's hard to say what separates the singer songwriter with multiple origins (she has a Welsh accent, but claims allegiance to a number of other places- Ireland, New York) from so many others who do the same kind of thing.
Like many females in the industry, she looks gorgeous, her sad chocolate brown eyes partially hidden by an unruly fringe. Though she appears a little self-conscious, she chats easily with the crowd, telling stories about her intelligent and heartfelt songs that are not without humour, as displayed in 'Hitler was a momma's boy' and 'Olé Conquisidor' ("this is for George Bush!"). Her debut album, "O Seasons O Castles" and especially her second album, "Jet", get a good airing, highlighting a body of work that has always been critically acclaimed, but commercially obscure. Katell performs the title track off her new EP, 'What's the only thing worse than the end of time?', and, even on first listening, it gives you tingles.
What makes this lady stand out is not just her ability to play the guitar or write an intelligent, beautiful song, or even her unassuming presence. It's her voice, soaring and swooping and, at times, squeaking as you stand in disbelief that such vocal acrobatics are possible. Three encores later, Katell Keineg is still on stage and, for her last song, does a cover of a rock number that sees her doing her best PJ Harvey impression. The rock chick role suits her, until mid strut, when she starts to giggle and so does the crowd.
If you haven't discovered Katell Keineg yet, get your hands on one of her albums. You'll be in for a real treat.