UK artist Megan O’Neill’s debut album “Ghost of You” isn’t officially released until 8th June so it was a special treat to attend this event and hear Megan and her band perform all twelve tracks live. And indeed take home an autographed copy of the CD in the “ goody bag” afterwards, which also contained a sample of Campfire Gin courtesy of the event’s sponsor!
229 (Gt Portland St) is a modern venue that was new to me, but it impressed on every count ……location, sound quality, staff friendliness and a lovely big bar! There’s lounge style seating to the rear and plenty of standing space in front of the stage, definitely somewhere I’d happily go to again.
Of course the event sold out, Megan has garnered a strong following with the release of her previous EP’s , and the place was filling up as openers Two Ways Home took to the stage after an introduction from agent/promoter Ray Jones of TalentBanq . Playing the set as a three piece, Isabella and Lewis were joined by by a lead guitarist who added an extra dynamic and they played a mix of songs from their back catalogue and new EP “Closest Stranger” which includes co writes with Logan Brill and Demi Marriner. Harmonies were wonderful and Isabella’s lead vocals particularly strong.
By the time Megan and her fantastic new band (which included a female bass player, bravely soldiering on with a sprained ankle!) appeared the room was buzzing with anticipation. Ray had explained earlier that all the musicians on his company’s roster were selected on the basis of being exceptional live performers, and the set we were privy to confirmed that is exactly what Megan is. But more than that, she is a top quality songwriter too and it was wonderful to hear so many beautifully constructed numbers with incredible lyrics. I particularly love her ballads, which are very moving and relatable and suit her voice so well. The new album contains some total gems in this respect. There’s the heartfelt declaration of love in “Why I Need You” ( co-written with her producer Zak Lloyd) for example which was the first single release from the album and which has since had a great guitar riffs added
the stunning title track of course with which you may also already be familiar, and “ Don’t Say It’s Over” , another collaboration with Lloyd . I hadn’t heard this one until this evening, she pleads “ Tell me that we’re broken, say we need repair ” at the beginning of this emotional number about trying to save a relationship which moved me to tears. Of her new more uptempo offerings I loved “ Tell You to Leave” which I’m sure would make great single material, she talks of how she’s through with being taken for granted and how her partner’s coffee cup stained the table like he stained her mind. She only wants him to come back so she can tell him to leave….delivered with great attitude, this one! And it was great to hear so many people singing along with her current single “ Without” which got a particularly good reception. Vocally Megan was superb throughout the entire set, she has brilliant control and sings with genuine feeling. She’s a great keyboard player too, jumping on and off as required, seemingly having the time of her life up on the stage, just as we all were watching her!
A lovely touch was having guest appearances by some of her co-writers, namely Starsailor’s James Walsh who duetted with her beautifully on “Bottle” and Leeds based The Dunwell brothers who joined her for the encore songs, “Any Younger” with its seize-the-moment message and “ Lost a Love”, both of which also feature the brothers on the album itself.
As mentioned earlier, the entire new album was played, together with a couple of fantastic covers, Stapleton’s “ Parachute” and Morris’ “ My Church”, the latter giving Megan a chance to unleash her vocal power to the full. She joked that she’d have claimed both songs as her own had we not heard of them!
It was clear that her family, friends, fans and support network in general mean a lot to Megan, she thanked us all for following her career and for coming out on a school night but of course the thanks were really due to her and all the other musicians for a fantastic night, showcasing what an array of talent we have here on the UK country music scene right now.
Having listened to her new album multiple times since this event, I can highly recommend you getting your ears round it when it becomes available in a few weeks, the superb production truly does justice to the amazing tracks.
You can read my recent interview with Megan here, in which she talks a bit more about “ Ghost of You” and her plans for 2018 http://bellesandgals.com/2018/04/06/3985/
Review written by Lesley Hasting (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)