February 25th, 2010
Last night Polly and I went to see Fionn Regan at the ULU in Euston, a musical experience we had been waiting on tenderhooks for ever since first hearing his first album, 'The End of History'.
As usual, Fionn was touring as he had a new album out. Now, i'm not usually such a stubborn puritist but as The End of History was pretty much the only album I can listen to over and over and never get bored, he had a lot to live up to. New album The Shadow of an Empire did not do the job. The difference is kind of comparable to when Dylan went electric, except most of last night it could have been a totally different person on stage from the Regan of 2 years ago. The new songs bear no signs of his immense songwriting talent for light and beautiful compositions. Last night we saw an average, americana-style gig, average lyrics, average songs.
Support came from Danny and the Champions of the World, ok but pretty boring if i'm honest. They then played as Fionn Regan's band for his set, and hidden behind electric guitar and bass, organ and heavy drums, any subtleties his voice has were totally lost.
There were a few highlights when the band left Fionn with the stage to himself, he played songs from the first album: Penny in the Slot and Be Good or Be Gone. The only old song with the band that worked was Underwood Typewriter- with drums and bass that actually complimented the song rather than drowning it. Sadly the same can't be said for Hey Rabbit, which he totally killed. I didn't realise that was possible with your own song.
All in all, the whole affair was a mish-mash of new, noisy, average songs intersected with beautiful acoustic music- like two different musicians were swapping over between songs. Very strange. You were just left wondering why at least even his mother hasn't asked him what the hell he's doing. I'm all for people moving on, developing, pushing themselves, but this is BACKWARD. Fionn Regan has sadly lost the lightness of touch and the depth of lyricism.
I would urge you to seek out The End Of History to listen to, it is a truly wonderful peice of work. But if you like it, don't go for the new stuff, sore dissapointment will follow.
Note: I really hope that with more listening Fionn's new album will grow on me. I hate to feel this decided against something. Oh dear oh dear.