Review : Megan O’Neill At The Lexington, London 2nd Nov. 2021

 

Ireland’s Megan O’Neill rounded off an extensive European and UK tour last Monday with a stunning 75 minute set at North London’s The Lexington, and what a total pleasure it was to see her utter joy at being able to perform live again after having to reschedule the shows three times (no explanation needed!).  As well as being a writer, musician and vocalist of the highest quality, Megan thrives on stage and at her own admission is never short of conversation during her performances, relaying anecdotes and explaining the inspiration behind her songwriting,  and this was definitely the case throughout this gig. The enthusiastic crowd responded well to her relaxed chat but were always fully engaged and in total silence during the songs. As always Megan lived every word she sang, her pure vocals with that beautiful Irish lilt ringing out clearly throughout (the venue’s sound engineer needs a big thanks too) and she was equally at ease on keyboards, which she jested is her preferred instrument as there’s no tuning required, and guitar, be it electric or acoustic. But then again, the on stage guitar tuning provided opportunities for some joke telling by the musicians, which I’m sure none of us would have wanted to miss out on… possibly…!!! 

The well-structured set saw Megan take to the stage on her own for the first few numbers, before being joined by opener and fellow Irishman Mark Caplice (the two swapping between guitar and keyboards, their voices harmonising beautifully as well as them alternating on lead vocals at times) and then later by percussionist Paul Kenny,  who added some extra energy and drive to the already energetic and driven twosome!  She mentioned how this gradual growth as the show progressed mirrored her growth as an artist in recent years. 
Naturally tracks from Megan’s most recent album dominated the set (“Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty” was released in March, read out review here https://www.bellesandgals.com/2021/03/12/megan-oneills-getting-comfortable-with-uncertainty-out-today/). Particularly well received were “Fire With Fire” and “Ireland” , the stunningly beautiful love song to her homeland, which followed on from her ode to another place she holds dear to her heart and which she called home for several years, “London City” . I’m sure many of us who have lived it the capital for any period of time will agree with the lyrics “you kept me crazy but you kept me sane“, as Megan explained it’s a great place but also a hard one, and you need to be strong to survive. Possibly my favourite from the album is “Underrated” so obviously it was fantastic to see that making the set list, it’s a real statement song written several years ago Megan explained (“songs don’t have an expiry date”) to vent her frustrations with not only the music industry but various aspects of life in general. 
We were treated to two as yet unreleased songs, a gorgeous break-up ballad co-written with Mark Caplice on which the pair duet and each put forwards their own thoughts on how to remedy the situation (I think it may be titled “How Do We Get Home?”) and the set closer, “Wildfire” which is due for release in early 2022. “The first release of a new era in my life/career” Megan told us. Watch this space! 
Interspersed between originals were a few covers , most notable for me was Megan’s flawless version of Jim Croce’sTime in A Bottle“. Added to her album as a late edition, bonus track which Mark produced and collaborated on, it was used in the pilot episode of a new Netflix TV show, Firefly Lane
I must admit that on a cold November evening (definitely more red wine than G&T weather!) I had toyed with the notion of staying in my warm home in Buckinghamshire, but wow was I glad my “YOLO” attitude kicked in and that I got my arse off the sofa… this was a gig of the highest quality in every respect, and despite having to scrape the ice off my car when I got back to my local station at gone midnight it was worth it! 
More artist information at megan-oneill.com 
Set List 
Strangers Before We Met 
Winter Sun 
Nothing’s Gonna Happen ( Staves cover) 
Time In A Bottle ( Jim Croce cover) 
London City 
Ireland 
I’m On Fire ( Springsteen cover) 
Should Have Known Better 
How Do We Get Home ( may not be the title…as yet unrecorded original) 
Rootless 
Sometimes I Learn 
Underrated 
Fire With Fire 
Wildfire
More artist information here https://linktr.ee/meganoneill
Review written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)

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