All style, little substance

David Turpin can craft a decent song, but the delivery is painfully pretentious

The Late David Turpin

Smock Alley Theatre


Oh, boy. When David Turpin announces "I wrote this song about the extermination of the Neanderthals by the Homo Sapiens" with no trace of irony, you know what sort of show you're in for. The Dubliner, launching his new album We Belong Dead, is clearly capable of writing a good moody pop song as the quirky throb of Never to Be Found Again, Cloud and Garland attest to – but the problem is in the delivery, which verges on painfully pretentious at times.


Turpin strives for atmosphere as the house lights dim and a seven-piece choir reinforce his breathy intonations, but he is essentially singing along to a static backing track provided by masked musician Hunter-Gatherer, and a laptop is no match for the energy that a live band would have brought to the show. When he produces an animal skull to tap mutedly for "percussive" purposes, it sums things up: all style, but very little substance.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times