Mark Mulcahy – Whelan’s (Dublin, Ireland)
Next to the new Star Wars movie coming to town, the return of Mark Mulcahy was going to be pretty small cheese. Still, considering how little is known of his former band Miracle Legion on this side of the Atlantic, a pretty reasonable crowd has turned up tonight to see him play. It’s been six years since he was last in town, and he tells us he’s happy to back somewhere people can pronounce his name correctly. Maybe it’s because it’s the last night of the tour that he seems so relaxed, up there with only his electric guitar for company. “Nevermind overjoyed, just start with happy,” he croons at one stage in the proceedings. Fair enough.
The songwriting terrain Mulcahy occupies is somewhere between Mark Eitzel and Paul Westerberg, flipping between disaffection and steely resilience in the face of life’s ups and downs. “You’re underrated by yourself, quit looking down.” he sings on “Hey Self-Defeater”, a song probably directed at himself as much as anyone else. Situations both common and peculiar are explored on songs such as “Apartment Murders” and “Pasadena Love Story”, with Mulcahy skillfully invoking a variety of feelings.
For “I Woke Up In The Mayflower”, Mulcahy is joined onstage by Chris Harford, a singer-songwriter from New Jersey, who contributes vocals and guitar. Perhaps the highlight of the show is “Ciao My Shining Star”; Mulcahy is often compared to Tim Buckley, but it’s Jeff Buckley he sounds most like here, singing the whole song in a high falsetto. If you attempt to sing this way and don’t make the notes, everyone will notice. Mulcahy doesn’t slip up once. “I laid down in your sunshine, later in your moonshine,” he sings sweetly. It’s a quite astonishing song.
Harford comes back onstage to help with the closing numbers, “Country Boy”, “Backyard” and “All For The Best”, all old Miracle Legion tunes. These are greeted with ecstatic applause by people at the front of the crowd, obviously fans of Mulcahy’s old band. It just goes to show that if you make good music, some people will always remember.