Live review: Tommy Reilly, Ryan Joseph Burns at Tut’s, 8/12/13

Tommy-Reilly---December-08,-2013-(6-of-18)Tonight Tommy Reilly and Ryan Joseph Burns play Tut’s and give a terrifically loyal crowd something to ponder about acoustic.

RJB started us off in pleasant enough fashion, a simple set, just himself and an amped acoustic, he meanders through a number of tracks that didn’t really give anyone any pause for thought.

It seems oddly disjointed, a crescendo to not much in almost every song, and lyrics that don’t grab the imagination.

The patter is a bit off too, faux self-deprecation mixed with hollow reminders that all the songs are sad.

The thing is they aren’t, they aren’t happy either, although they play to that sort of emotional register.

Burns has a good voice, with some sense of possibility, and in some songs more than others appears to have signs of genuine emotion, but it never quite gets there.

His guitar work isn’t memorable, and you get the sense, all in all, that there’s not a lot going on here; it’s pleasant, nothing more.

Not so with Tommy Reilly, the winner of a little-known TV contest a few years back his work is more assured but without trace of grandeur.

The opposite, even, he seems genuinely pleased people showed up, and to enjoy his music, his musicianship is impressive too, with real melodic verve at times.


He brings RJB up on stage (they’ve been working on material together, and it feels a bit less assured than Reilly’s solo stuff but with some potential there) and the two of them seem to be genuinely enjoying the show.

It isn’t naff and it isn’t put-on, but it never quite seems like it’s going to become an all-out jamming session either.

Reilly’s songs are about the same things Burns’ are, like a lot of country music is; loneliness, aimless love, the vague sense of being aware that all’s not quite right in the world that’s been given to you.

Reilly seems to have what sets good country apart though, the knowledge that although they’re not universal experiences they’re also not something you need to tell everyone about, anyone should be able to hear something in the lyrics, and they should be helped along by instrumentation, while Burns’ seem to be too directly involved, sort of “It’s so hard,” rather than “boy, it’s tough, ain’t it?”

An enjoyable enough night, although at points you wonder if you’d have been better off at home doing the ironing, maybe a symptom of being one of the few people in the venue who wasn’t charmingly engrossed and enlivened by the men at the front.

More photos

Words: Simon Jones
Photos: Neil Jarvie

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