Tony Clayton-Lea reviews Dave Couse at the Temple Bar Music Centre.

Dave Couse

Temple Bar Music

Centre, Dublin

He launched himself into his own and several A House songs, Dave Couse crooned John Cale's I Keep A Close Watch (On This Heart Of Mine).

It's perhaps an obvious song for someone as emotionally direct and caustic as Couse to sing, and, of course, it slotted quite perfectly into the overall theme of the evening.

When Couse was lead singer of A House - one of a number of Irish bands in the late 1980s which could have achieved, given the right circumstances, moderate success abroad - there was always the fear that the band's more cacophonous, awkward moments drowned out the lyrical intent.

There are no such problems with Couse as a solo act. Accompanied by an empathetic keyboard player, Simon Quigley (with bass player Dave Flynn and drummer Michael O'Dowd on hand for a few songs), if anything this major Dublin show was about reintroducing a fine songwriter into the firmament of a relatively healthy music scene.

He didn't disappoint, either. While obvious nerves highlighted an overt self-consciousness, Couse merrily ploughed through familiar A House songs (including Endless Art, Small Talk, The Comedy Is Over, Bring Down That Beast, Call Me Blue and I Am Afraid), and several new solo ones: Will It Ever Stop Raining, Peaceful, End Of The Day, All Too Familiar and For Sale.

The result was a show where high-quality talent was once again allowed to shine, and where the "a smile is a frown upside down" aesthetic of Dave Couse's songwriting art was never more telling or acute.

Dave Couse is continuing his Irish tour. He will be performing at Cleeres, Kilkenny, on August 29th; at the Spirit Store, Dundalk, on August 30th; at The Stables, Mullingar, on August 31st; at Róisín Dubh, Galway, on September 5th; and at Dolans' Warehouse, Limerick, on September 6th.

Tony Clayton-Lea