Maura OConnell in NYC Environs Again
Montclair, New Jersey, February 16, 2007, (20 degrees F)- - - On this bitterly cold wintry night Montclair, New Jerseys Outpost in the Burbs warmed up with some fine musicianship headlined by Maura OConnells first return to the New York City environs since her near St. Patricks Day gig at Sohos Knitting Factory two years ago.
Opening the evening was Patrick Fitzsimmons a musician from nearby Sussex County, NJ who for the last eight years has made his home in Vermont. Patrick was in the folk rock band of some renown in the 90s, "From Good Homes", and now is solo, doing some fine work. His set included finely crafted tunes ranging over the acoustic rock spectrum (think Guster or Jars of Clay). His melodies and lyrics were preceded by intros that gave the songs context and insight. Without backing musicians Patricks guitar playing stood out especially during one tune that had him using the body of his guitar like a drum. Patricks performance was well received.
The main act, Maura OConnell, who was at the beginning of a three-night weekend stand in the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia region, hit the boards running with an opening sequence of three hard-driving songs, and she never looked back.
Maura's set drew heavily from her latest Album (two year's old now) "Dont I Know" with "Trip Around the Sun", "To Be the One", "Didnt I", "Love You in the Middle", "Phoenix Falling" (anyone with a loved one with a mental illness can relate to this song), and the showstopper, "Time to Learn". Tim OBrien captures the ache of losing someone in that superb song. Maura lightened the mood by recounting a famous authors funny quote Losing one parent is one thing, but losing both parents, now THATS just careless. The crowd hooted.
Maura's next to last release, "Walls and Windows", was well represented too with, aptly enough "Walls", "I Wonder", "A Far Cry", "Blessing", "It Dont Bring You".
Mid-shows performance of the not-yet-recorded (by Maura) Declan ORourke gem, "Galileo", brought the house down.
Mauras classics such as "Blue Train", "Summerfly" and "Western Highway" are always crowd favorites and tonight was no exception. This night Maura even dusted off a few songs that she hasnt performed at concerts in a while and John Gorkas," Blue Chalk", was sung with flair and was a nice surprise for the appreciative audience.
John Mock, on guitar, and Don Johnson, on bass (and contributing vocals) provided their usual excellent accompaniment.
Speaking of the audience, the crowd was in obvious good spirits and warm inside the church/venue, but a bit more polite than typical because of the setting and the lack of spirits of a less religious kind. That did not stop them from stomping and giving Maura a standing ovation at the end of a very long set which brought an encore of an acapella Irish language song, "My Langan Love" which showcased her fantastic voice. That, the girl can sing, is an obvious understatement. The evening ended with Mauras version of Van Morrisons classic, "Crazy Love", which Maura has adapted and put her signature on, taking nothing away from the original. The crowd milled around after the show, to meet the performers and probably not wanting to exit into the cold evening air. Nonetheless they were warmed by the excellent show.