October 2, 2011

Concert #606 - Ollabelle at McCabe's Guitar Shop (September 30, 2011)

Here's yet another younger act playing the kind of music that sounds great to older ears. Not unlike the Secret Sisters, Ollabelle's repertoire consists of a well-balanced mix of older gems and self-penned numbers that blend together quite well. But there's a lot more to Ollabelle than just their appealing song selection - these guys have talent, lots of talent. They write good music, sing their hearts and souls out, excel at their instruments and then how many quintets can you name where all five members are capable of soloing on vocals?

One may also refer to Ollabelle as "democracy in action", as none of them appeared to be above the others - they all had their moments and they all received virtually equal exposure, with the possible exception of drummer Tony Leone.

With vocalist Amy Helm on maternity leave, the band came out with a worthy replacement in the person of Aoife O'Donovan of Crooked Still fame. Seamlessly integrated into the act, Aoife (pronounced Ee-fah) sounded and looked fabulous with her uncontained cheerfulness and, in my opinion, no one on stage sounded better.

Byron Isaacs, Aoife O'Donovan and Fiona McBain at McCabe's (September 30, 2011)
  Band line-up
Aoife O'Donovan - vocals, tambourine
Byron Isaacs - vocals, bass guitar, upright bass, drums
Tony Leone - vocals, drums, percussion
Fiona McBain - vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, ukulele
Glenn Patscha - vocals, keyboards, piano

In terms of their instrumental virtuosity, pianist Glenn Patscha impressed me the most. Bassist Byron Isaacs was great, too.

The show was exceptionally well-paced, there were no lulls in action and there was minimal chatter, just the way a concert is supposed to be. With so much vocal and instrumental variety on the stage, we were thoroughly entertained, I know I was. The band left behind two set lists, which were identical in content but written by two different hands.

List #1
List #2
Picking a highlight is no easy task, but if pressed, I'd pick "Soul Of A Man" and "No More, My Lawd". I also liked "Lovin' In My Baby's Eyes", sung quite well by drummer Tony Leone. The band got a well-deserved standing ovation.

The stage before the band came out
Fiona McBain and Aoife O'Donovan signing autographs
Glenn Patscha chatting with fans after the show
Poster in the window at McCabe's

Autographed Ollabelle poster

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