Conor McMahon reviews this month’s Nighthawks which took place at the Cobalt Café, North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1.



Nighthawks is a monthly arts club night organised by part-time playwright, Stephen Kennedy. This month’s Nighthawks took place at the Cobalt Café, North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1.

Harpists Aisling Ennis and Dearbhail Finnegan opened the show. The two enchanted the audience and set the pace for the evening with their magnificent recitals. Ennis and Finnegan casually chatted to the audience throughout their set, talking about their different backgrounds in harp-playing. Their sound had a distinct South American quality to it, which Ennis confirmed when she described their tunes as “Welsh-Argentinian”. Ennis and Finnegan executed each piece beautifully, including a wonderful interpretation of “Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór”. Their lilting tunes had a touch of the contemporary.

Kilkenny singer-songwriter, Deetrich (akaDee Doyle), and bandperformed next, airing songs from her new album. The new tunes touch on the sound of cabaret, without the kitsch. Deetrich’s new single, “No Job, No Money”, could easily be an anthem for the jobless, especially as the summer draws in and we all indulge in some “lazy days”, as Doyle sings. The mixture of modern rock and traditional European instrumentation gives Deetrich a wonderful roguish sound. For fans of PJ Harvey and Tom Waits.

Next was one of Cork’s most exciting comedians, Chris Kent. Kent reminisced about his childhood and teenage years as a very bad electrician and an even worse hurler. His biting wit, instant likability and curious anecdotes immediately won the crowd over. Kent is a very funny and very gifted stand-up.

Kit Fryatt moved the evening away from music and stand-up, and gave the audience a sample of some performance poetry. Fryatt’s set was animated and fun. She was unpredictable in her performance—she silenced the audience as quickly as she made them laugh. Her work proves how wonderfully playful and musical language is. Her humorous poem about how the “entire cycling community is as bent as a nine euro note” (“Dyke with Bike”) was just as entertaining and complementary to her more topical and heartfelt pieces on human consumption and pollution.

Stand-up Pauline Curtain performed next. Curtain’s set was a mash-up of failed bikini waxes, detachable-dick jokes and warm-handed bra fitters, which sounds wonderful—but wasn’t. Her set was far too loose and Curtain failed to capture the audience. She clearly draws influence from shock comedians like Frankie Boyle and Joan Rivers, whose vulgar and dark jokes are a great success. Curtain modelled her set too much on other comedians which made for an unconvincing performance.

After a short interval, Dublin band Shadows and Dust redeemed the evening with their triumphant set. Shadows and Dust have a mature sound, and lyrics to match. Their songs of melancholic youth and hope were gorgeous. They performed to a silent audience, who watched in sincere admiration and respect for the night’s youngest acts. Shadows and Dust are extremely talented musicians with an obvious future ahead of them. It is always nice to know that the artist you are watching is going to really go somewhere.

The highlight of this month’s Nighthawks was comedy sketch trio, Foil, Arms and Hog (Sean Finnegan, Conor McKenna and Sean Flanagan). Foil, Arms and Hog were full of energy, and took the audience on a whirlwind of eccentric sketches in obscure locations. The trio rely mainly on their imagination (and, at times, the cooperation of the audience) to bring their characters to life, although they have to be commended for their use of props and sound effects during a brilliantly executed sword-fight scene. They absolutely gripped the Nighthawks audience and were extraordinarily funny.

Rock band, Crayonsmith closed the show. This was Crayonsmith’s third time to perform at Nighthawks. The band brought a rawer sound to the show compared to the other musicians that performed. In between songs, the audience called on front man, Ciaran Smith, to crank up the volume. As their set progressed, Crayonsmith’s songs became more structured and solid, but the band retained their raw, garage sound. Crayonsmith brought an electic evening to an electric close.

April’s Nighthawks takes place at the Cobalt Café, 14 April.