Review: Open House Festival on tour

On the last gig of the 5 night Open House Festival tour of Northern Ireland, we headed in to Holywood Yacht Club for a night of strings and folk music. It’s the first ever tour for the Open House folks and from what I’m hearing it was a huge success with it only being 5 tickets short of a sell out.

The quirky little tour included Prima String Quartet, PØRTS (formerly known as Little Bear) and John Smith at Portrush Town Hall, Hilden Brewery Lisburn, SERC Studio Theatre Bangor, Analogue Catalogue Recording Studio Drumdreenagh and Holywood Yacht Club.

Ports at Holywood Yacht Club
Ports at Holywood Yacht Club

We arrived to a twinkly lit venue at Holywood Yacht Club and enjoyed a night of great, fresh, live music and in the most unusual of venues. Open House are consistent in their style of music with a big focus on the folk scene and this tour was no exception.

Prima String Quartet started the night off by gently easing us into the gig with a beautifully relaxing piece of music. You couldn’t really see them unless you were in the front few rows, but listening to them was more than enough as I was transported into a world of classical bliss.

Next came the wonderful Ports with the most unusual of sound machines to compliment the vocals of their opening track. To my untrained and unknowing brain, they looked like two mobile phones used to enhance the vocals of the opening track. Loved it. Ports are just finishing off their new album and we can’t wait to get our hands on it.

  John Smith at Holywood Yacht Club
John Smith at Holywood Yacht Club

John Smith performed for the second half and final hour of the gig. John performed a mellow set of chilled folk with a touch of country and added a fair amount of craic in between. When he was invited along to play in Holywood Yacht Club, he had expectations/visions of Steven Seagal and all the glamour of Hollywood. Sorry, wrong Holywood.

For the last few songs John and his band were accompanied by the beautiful sounding Prima String Quartet to finish off the night and of course the tour.

It was all very eclectic, relaxing, chilled and live, and without funding from the Arts Council, this kind of treat event wouldn’t take place . Well it might, but it wouldn’t be such great value.

Thanks to Kieran Gilmore and his team for bringing this genre of live music to Northern Ireland and we will definitely be enjoying more of it very soon. Actually, it’ll be in Ballyholme Yacht club in a few weeks for the sold out gig by The Devil Makes Three.

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Post Author: Belfast Times

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