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Live Review: The Breath – 16th October 2023 – The Union Chapel, London, UK

2 min read

This past Monday, The Breath took to the stage at Union Chapel in London for a somewhat intimate show to promote their upcoming new album Land Of My Other. “There’s a lot more than we expected” lead singer and songwriter Ríoghnach Connolly announced as they arrived on stage. Everything that represents the group’s personality can be summed up by her initial actions; She handed a woman in the front row her seat cushion, before returning to her own chair to begin Ditty, proclaiming “We’re not sure where this night is gonna go, but it ain’t gonna be cheery”. Humour and heart aplenty. The crowd were lifted by her nature charm and snappy comments.

They transitioned quickly into Hideout, Ríoghnach’s vocals soured above the atmospheric guitar. Ríoghnach roughly retold the story of Cliona’s Wave, the inspiration behind the song of the same name from their new album. The combo of voice, guitar and pump organ was hauntingly beautiful, especially in a space like union chapel.

The megaphone in Antwerp received just as big a cheer, and added an extra layer of power to the song’s powerful performance, as did guitarist Stuart McCallum’s pedal meddling. First album song Carry Your Kin was welcomed with open arms, Ríoghnach’s flute playing – as on many other tracks – was flawless and gorgeous. The fully Irish dialect song that followed, about a couple’s row, comes across as subtly mellow, while Remembering The Flood brought the tempo back up with a foot-stomping attitude.

“This one’s about trees,” Ríoghnach said, “and dead people.” The guitar playing in What You Owe was particularly special, the blues-laden riff following Ríoghnach’s voice like a wave. Their final song, brought on by the curfew, was a beautiful finale to a heart-wrenching, emotionally rich evening. It was, of course, followed by an unscheduled, genuine encore, a loud and anarchic tune and another softer number, Only Stories, to round off the evening properly.

Set List:
Ditty / Hideout
Don’t Rush
For You
Cliona’s Wave
Land of my Other
Carry Your Kin
Brid Han
Little One
Remembering The Flood
Too Many Have Gone
What You Owe
Letters from Long Kesh
All That You Have Been
Only Stories