DavidKitt de barras

All pictures by Brid O’Donovan

No venue in Ireland does intimate gigs as, well, intimately as De Barra’s. David Kitt obviously agrees, roadtesting new material in the Clonakilty pub on Thursday night, his first solo gig since last summer, when he played Small Moments in its entirety at a few select venues around the country.

He agrees that he’s rusty, evidenced by the countless times he has to stop songs to retune a guitar. He’s perhaps more comfortable nowhere near a guitar, such has been the success of his collaboration with Damien Lynch, New Jackson. Kitt says after the first song, a whistled tune (“I’m better at singing than whistling”), that “that’s where the plan ends”, pulling out a ream of notes from his back pocket like a comedian unsure of his new material.

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The night opened with Margie Lewis, an Australian-born violist who has brought a zither down with her, an intriguing instrument that when she plucks it, I found myself cocking my head to one side, like a dog being taught a new trick, trying to understand what it was. She’s probably best known for her collaborative work with a number of Irish artists; she performs ‘Legion’, which featured on Bantum’s album of the same name of last year. Rather than the beat-driven original, her version leaves the listener haunted.

It’s a similar story with the rest of her set, made up of looped vocals upon looped vocals, yelped sounds, some violin, and a little bit more, with the penultimate track in particular effecting an uncomfortable, suffocating sound.

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There’s about 20 people inside the back room watching David Kitt. He says it feels like we’ve been on a skiing holiday together, at once insulting the quiet crowd but asking them to come closer to the fire to warm up. Kitt later clarifies that he’s never been on a skiing holiday before – “you know, they’re a bit ostentatious,” he adds.

Obviously rusty on the stage, he ends every song with a few claps of his hand towards the hushed audience. He prefaces the third track, a new song, with the story behind its creation; he was at a wedding in Galway and the next day happened upon some friends who were around. “The weekend got a bit less pure after that,” he says. We’re treated to versions of ‘What I Ask’, from The Big Romance, which segues into Whitney Houston’s ‘I Want To Dance With Somebody’, and a more raucous ‘Headphones’ from debut album Small Moments, which heads into a few lines from Joy Division’s Radio Live Transmission. There’s also a cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’.

The songs all evening are never less than beguiling, with the intrigue of the new tracks and the rustiness of the old coming together for a gig you don’t want to end. Hopefully we don’t have to wait another year to see him live again.

David Kitt plays Coughlan’s Bar in Cork City on Saturday night at 9pm. Tickets are €15.

MargieLewis

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Margie Lewis's zither

Margie Lewis’s zither

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