Westend Live – Mar/Apr 2024

By Greg Kane

Hania Rani
Thursday 7th March 6:30pm

Hania Rani makes beautiful music that’s haunted and enchanted. The 30 something Polish composer and pianist blurs the lines of classical, ambient and house — submerged beats pulse under ripples of piano, synths and her delicate voice (she sings in English). She regularly performs in concert halls across Europe and now divides her time between Berlin and Warsaw. Between these two cities, the pianist composes sensitive and subtle music reminiscent of the works of Erik Satie and Philip Glass. She is out on a European tour which runs up to June this year promoting her new album ‘Ghosts’. Although it may sound like it from my description, her music is neither complex nor a demanding listen, but it’s more playful, melodic, even childlike at times … it fits her personality.

Choice Track: Hania Rani – “Eden”

Barry Can’t Swim
Saturday 16th March 7pm
Queen Margaret Union (QMU)

Barry Can’t Swim is an impetuous, colourful and bold voice in electronic music. Edinburgh born Joshua Mainnie (his real name) spent his youth in the Scottish capital, studied music there at Napier University and embraced the Club culture Edinburgh had to offer, frequenting seminal electronic hangouts, Sneaky Pete’s and Cabaret Voltare. “It wasn’t just about clubbing,” he points out. “There’s a real sense of community. You’d go to after-parties, and meet people who were doing interesting things – like running nights, or they had their own labels. I was really involved in all of that”. He is fundamentally a DJ/Producer of dance music, but uses the energy of electronic music to support a more organic live element in his tracks. He likes writing music for real instruments. His debut album “When Will We Land’ dropped at the end of 2023 and he is out on a UK/European tour in early 2024, with festival appearances in the US in the Summer. Most of his shows are sold out which indicates his exponential rise in popularity. Catch him while you can.

Choice Track: Barry Can’t Swim – “How It Feels”

The Smile
Wednesday 20th March
SEC Armadillo

The Smile are an English alt rock trio, comprising of singer/bassist Thom Yorke, keyboardist/guitarist Jonny Greenwood and drummer/percussionist Tom Skinner. They play a kind of warped version of classic English alt rock from the 90’s, but with way more subtleties and intricacies usually found within this genre. Yorke is a strong, capable and emotive singer … his melodies and deliveries drive the whole project. Greenwood seems to have a mastery of harmonic invention very few in rock would want to explore, but this makes listening to them a real journey of surprises and intrigues. Poor Tom Skinner has the unenviable task of making sense of it all, laying down rhythm tracks that deploy multiple time signatures to affect some sort of followable arrangement. It ain’t an easy listen, but it is an enjoyable one.

Choice Track: The Smile – “Friend Of A Friend”


Monday 15th April 7:30pm
The Hug And Pint

Omni are an American post-punk band from Atlanta. The band is a trio consisting of Philip Frobos on vocals and bass, Frankie Broyles on guitar and keyboards and Chris Yonker on drums. Their sound is influenced by post – punk bands like Talking Heads and Television, with mathematical rhythms, wiry guitar chords, nervy baselines and jolting beats. To me, Philip Frobos voice is a mix of Mike Love from The Beach Boys and Gary Numan, but the music does not have much electronica in it, it’s the guitar that leads the band around their often complex arrangements. I really do like the guitar playing on this band’s stuff, it’s really what stopped me from skipping when I discovered them. As usual I’m pretty late to this with Onmi releasing their 4th album “Souvenir” in 2024 on Subpop Records.

Choice Track: Omni – “Exacto”

Jane Weaver
Tuesday 23rd April 7pm
Òran Mór

Jane Louise Weaver is a 50 something English singer, songwriter and guitarist. She released her first solo album in 2002 after being part of the Britpop phenomenon during the 90’s with her band Kill Laura (a favourite of godfather of indie radio John Peel). She has released 14 albums over the last 22 years with her new album ‘Love In Constant Spectacle’ set for release in April this year. Her vocal delivery is classic English Indie pop, but she is not afraid to just hang on to the notes a little bit longer than most, just to let you know she is actually a very good singer rather than disguise the fact. I really enjoyed listening to her music … old school Brit Pop Indie. What’s not to like.

Choice Track: Jane Weaver – “Perfect Storm”

Olivia Dean
Thursday 25th April 7pm
Swg3 Galvanizers

Olivia Lauryn Dean is a young English neo soul singer from London. Her music is described as “devastating heartbreak ballads and sing-along self-love anthems”. She has released one studio album: Messy (2023) and five EPs. In 2021, she was named the breakthrough artist of the year by Amazon Music and, in 2023, Dean was selected as BBC Music Introducing Artist of the Year. What a beautiful voice she has, not a classic soul one, altho she can rhyme off a Beyonce cover at the drop of a hat, but in the next breath she can also drop your jaw with a choice Leonard Cohen cover. She’s different than most playing this style of music. There’s something about her, I just hope she keeps us guessing what version of Olivia Dean she decides it is. 

Choice Track: Olivia Dean – “UFO”

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