It’s rather fashionable to be a young Irish male with a guitar in hand and a powerful pair of lungs to match nowadays. The successful export of bands such as Kodaline, the immense takeover of the US and rise to festival headliner in less than a year of Hozier and now the ever charming Dublin brothers Harry and Alfie, better known as Hudson Taylor. All have combined to make being a musical Irish man a figurative gold mine. But bands such as Hudson Taylor didn’t reach headline tour status over night; these lads have put in countless years of hard work and cold hours busking on the streets of Dublin, perfecting their style and gradually building a devoted following.
Ever supportive of their fellow Irish comrades, Hudson Taylor have brought Belfast’s young bluesy rock duo Southern along for the ride. Coincidently Southern also share a family bond, with members Lucy and Tom being brother and sister. Warming up the crowd with an electric shot of high intensity and kicking things up a notch from their usual acoustic styling. The duo sare lively and connected driving through their set that puts a youthful twist on an old style gritty blues with sliding guitars and drum beats that punch you in the chest. Despite being the nights support band, Southern easily sound like a top of the bill act.
As the old saying goes “You know you’ve made it when you see your name in lights”; Hudson Taylor seem to have taken this on quite a literal level. The high back wall of Newcastle’s Riverside venue adorned with a fifteen foot light display spelling out HT in honour of the boys new found success. Still humble however the brothers seem almost embarrassed by the glistening effigy claiming that they ‘don’t usually do this sort of thing’.
Bringing their old acoustic style that draws influences from the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, Hudson Taylor have added a full band including a talented fiddle player who adds quintessential traditional Irish touch to their songs. As always the brotherly chemistry is alive and well between Harry and Alfie whose exuberance and delight shines through. For a band with such a new mainstream following the audience’s knowledge of lyrics was impressive; favourites of the night being the classic ‘Chasing Rubies’, a track which dates back to the boys early days of grainy YouTube posts. Overwhelmed by the crowd’s enthusiasm Alfie orchestrated some audience participation and crowd led choruses; much to the delight of the teenage girls who sang out loud enough to fill the entire venue.
Performing a staggeringly lengthy set at over 2 hours the band were able to cover all their most popular songs, a long list of new material and even managed a plug or two of their upcoming album ‘Singing For Strangers’. The trademark harmonies which mark the brothers key talent are as always smooth, captivating and without a single bum note. However, some new material suffers a lack of lyrical complexity which is common in Hudson Taylor classics. Despite this the boys didn’t fail to bring a smile to all faces in the audiences and even sparked an atmosphere that appeared very appealing to the couples in the crowd; music and romance complimenting each other, somewhat to the dismay of those singleton audience members.
Reviewer: Dominique Daly
Photographer: Graeme Baty