It’s been a good while since Johnny Flynn last came to Ireland (three years to be precise, when he played the Academy and made an appearance at Electric Picnic).
Despite taking a break from music, fans won’t be surprised to hear that work and life has accelerated for the multitalented musician, poet and actor.
He has been an extremely busy man these past few years: he has starred in two Shakespeare plays, composed the soundtrack to independent film A Bag of Hammers and was acting opposite Anne Hathaway in Song One, which is in cinemas early next year.
On top of all that, he has since married his sweetheart Bea and the couple had their first son Gabriel.
A hectic schedule and life hasn’t deterred Flynn from packing all his energy into the Country Mile tour and he was in flying form when he took to the stage in Whelan’s with his six-piece band.
In what was something of a hootenanny or barn dance in the stuffy venue, the jam-packed audience surged back and forth as they engaged in all kinds of dancing from minimal swaying, to enthusiastic foot-stomping. (The heat was made all the more unbearable with all those heaving bodies!)
Onstage there was plenty of instrument-swapping, occasional shy banter and all round fun.
The interaction between Johnny and his little sister and bandmate, Lillie, was sweet. The siblings exchanged quick glances and smiles throughout the evening and perform particularly well together (Lillie is a very talented musician and singer).
Johnny and co treated us to some favourites – ‘The Water’, ‘Tickle Me Pink’, ‘Barnacle Warship’, ‘Been Listening’ – as well as a couple of newbies – ‘Country Mile’, ‘Fol De Rol’, all of which had hints of traditional Irish music injected into them.
It was apparent from hearing the old tunes mixed with the new that then band is veering dangerously close to falling into the nu-folk trap of every song sounding a little bit the same. The group’s 2010 album was a lot more innovative that this year’s offering and it was clear from this performance that the newbies just don’t square up to tracks on their previous LPs.
But I digress – this really was an enjoyable gig, and Flynn and his band kept the audience on-board throughout the night. We all went home with smiles on our faces and appreciated the opportunity to lose ourselves in an evening of jigs and reels.
The Country Mile by Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit is out now