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We were blessed to witness Camille's cathedral concert

Review: Camille O'Sullivan at St Anne’s Cathedral

By Andrew Johnston

Published 01/05/2015

Top draw: Camille O'Sullivan
Top draw: Camille O'Sullivan

The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival has built much of its reputation on delivering intimate gigs in the likes of the Black Box.

But last night, for the launch of its 16th edition, Belfast's boldest cultural bonanza took things to the opposite extreme. The impossibly grand St Anne's Cathedral was the venue for the opening performance by Irish cabaret crooner Camille O'Sullivan.

It may seem an unlikely pairing on paper, but the building is the central edifice of the Cathedral Quarter and gives it its name. You might wonder why no one had thought of it sooner.

O'Sullivan was dwarfed physically, but her mighty voice permeated every nook and cranny of the 111-year-old sanctuary.

Alternating between full band, solo piano backing and a cappella, the former partner of the Waterboys' Mike Scott conjured a range of different moods throughout her 90-minute set.

St Anne's may have withstood both the Blitz and the Troubles, but it's unlikely it has ever resonated to dissonant guitar breaks, squalling art-punk saxophone or Jacques Brel's Amsterdam being howled out by a black-maned sprite in a cocktail dress.

And the lyrics detailing the exploits of soldiers on shore leave in the Dutch port city proved more colourful given the venue's sober confines.

It was an intense and theatrical evening, but O'Sullivan was warm and humorous between songs, at one point venturing up the aisle to wish a fan a happy birthday.

She rarely stood still, meaning that even if she was a dot to those sitting at the back, at least she was an entertaining dot.

Ending on a dramatic rendition of The Ship Song, by Nick Cave, O'Sullivan brought the curtain down on a spectacular show that represented another coup for the festival.

Four stars

Belfast Telegraph

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