Last week, Charlie and I visited Leaf on Bold Street for a one off performance as part of the Liverpool Irish Festival. We were completely unfamiliar with the genre, artist and target audience, deciding that it would interesting to walk into the endeavour blind, as only then could we review the experience objectively. We were pleasantly surprised with the outcome and ended up having a relaxing and inspiring evening.
Firstly, Leaf itself is an enchanting venue and when we walked into the upstairs location, this notion was attested. The décor was minimalistic yet welcoming and aesthetically pleasing, with fairy lights suspended from the ceiling and green tinted stage lights in a dim room creating a sensation of being in a subterranean lagoon. There were tables and sofas dotted around haphazardly which the audience had perched themselves onto whilst inter-mingling before the concert. The crowd seemed calm, pleasant and sophisticated, with a mixture of students, older couples and middle-aged friends meeting after work. Nonetheless, it was definitely a popular event with the room being crowded. After purchasing a couple of beers and ciders, we settled on a sofa at the back of the room awaiting the music.
The supporting act named Callum Cairns, a Belfast native living and working in Liverpool came on stage first with his keyboard and microphone to perform his music project titled “Little Rivers”. He told a couple of funny anecdotes – like the fact that he actually works at Leaf therefore he was coming in to perform on his day off – which went far in enticing the audience with his infectious personality. His music was delicate and soothing, as his voice, full of emotion, although not completely refined yet, seemed to transgress the borders of tenor, alto and soprano ranges. Ranging in both tonal quality and theme, he sang about his home, nature and perhaps a lost love, whether literal or figurative, it was open to interpretation. Our personal favourite was a song called “We, I”, which almost transported you to a rural village surrounded by a woodland and streams. It was the perfect precursor for the main act.
After a brief interlude, Ciaran Lavery and Ryan Vail came on and played a chilling yet beautiful musical score, before introducing their collaborative mini album named “Seg Legs”, released in April 2015. They explained that they are from polar opposite worlds in the music universe, with Ciaran being an alt-folk singer from Aghagallon and Ryan Vail, a minimal electronic artist who creates widescreen soundscapes with piano, synthesiser and sampled found sound. After speaking online about ideas regarding a collaboration, Ciaran described how the duo eventually met at a festival and planned a few tracks inspired by their maritime, coastal surroundings in Donegal. They then performed these tracks.
Without sounding ostentatious, both Charlie and I agreed that you could close your eyes and feel like you were in a submarine, with the underwater echoes created by the synthesiser, whilst Lavery’s voice was purely haunting and eerie, yet smooth and captivating. The general ambience was rustic and poignant. It seemed as though the serenity and solitude of Donegal’s coastline had truly been illustrated through the uncanny yet tranquil sounds they were generating. A particular highlight for us was when they invited onto stage one of their friends from Seattle, who performed a spoken word piece, pertaining to the ocean and sea-related incidents, with their music underlying it. It was indisputably a palliative experience, almost like an anaesthetic as all the audience seemed mesmerized, clearly deep in thought.
The concert ended with us all wanting more, an impeccable culmination to a would be ordinary Thursday evening. Charlie and I left Leaf and decided to walk home, feeling relaxed and inspired, a feeling that is sometimes hard to come by in the hectic digital age we live in. We definitely would recommend checking out Sea Legs as it was a fantastic all-encompassing experience from the location to the atmosphere, the exquisite Irish accents and beards to the memorable, evocative music itself!