Live Reviews - Reviews

Malojian, Robb Murphy, Kat Hepworth – Black Box, Belfast


The lights dim and all of a sudden a big, yet soft voice comes from nowhere; so begins a lovely song by tonight’s first support act, Kat Hepworth, called ‘New York’. Each song that follows is just as honest and pure, the guitar finely picked, and all with a modest quirk and charm. In all, a fine start to the night’s proceedings in the Black Box.

Next up, Robb Murphy and his band; their steady whimsy doffing a cap to the Lisa Hannigans of this world, they are happy to let their songs build steadily. Damien Rice meets Belle & Sebastian; a pleasant tone throughout which anybody would enjoy. Each song feels natural and is constantly kept fresh by the diverse range of the band – and who doesn’t enjoy a trumpet player? They are a very welcoming, summery sounding outfit, and after a couple of songs they really hit  their stride, with Robb Murphy a very talented and accomplished lyricist. Their last song ‘On My Side’ quickly becomes the cause of manys a bopping head, making the sight of them shuffling from the stage quite a disappointing one.

And finally, Malojian. Singer Steve Scullion was very much on the brink of something big with Cat Malojian, after two albums and supporting Snow Patrol at Ward Park back in 2010. But their sudden break-up the following year has brought about the newly formed Malojian. Complete with a double bass and an organ/accordion player, Malojian’s tight folk carries a brilliant, sharp edge.

If there is a positive to be taken from the demise of Scullion’s original line up, it is that he has been able to go out and hand pick a totally new one, and he has done a great job. The vocals are oh so satisfyingly harmonised by every band member, with lamentable country-folk songs that are characteristically meticulous. The beauty of their music has been recognised by so many and with good reason too; their songs are a palette of all the right elements of country and folk music, which provides back up to the lofty compliments from people like Gary Lightbody, Lauren Laverne, and press outfits from all over the UK and Ireland, including NME and the BBC. They are such a pleasure to watch in a small venue like Black Box.

Malojian are absolutely excellent tonight, from the wonderful four-way harmonies to the charming bluesy folk. Folk music can be very uplifting when done right and Malojian personify that. Some immaculate songwriting performed with a humble disposition that is ever so likeable; capping off a really fine gig at the Black Box. Ryan McMurtry