McGinn begins new season at The Lagan Sessions


Picture by Joanne Ham Photography.

Matt McGinn makes a welcome return to the live music scene in Belfast when he opens a new high profile season at Belfast’s Lagan Sessions.

Joining him at the Sunflower Bar in Union Street is husband and wife duo Mandy and Graham Bingham together with County Antrim singer songwriter Bob Speers.

Matt McGinn has been a lynch-pin on the Irish music scene for a long time. The release of a new album this autumn should make him stand on his own as a leading Irish songwriter. After releasing his début album ‘Livin” in 2011 to much acclaim, Matt has enjoyed success touring worldwide, but with the birth of his son last year, he came off the road and knuckled down to write and record. Fans who go along might just hear a song or two off the new album ‘Latter Day Sinner’.

Those lucky enough to have heard Mandy Bingham in concert will know she has inherited a famous family musical gene; that of her late father David McWillams whose ‘Days of Pearly Spencer’ was a worldwide hit. Pedal steel player and backing vocalist Graham will join Mandy as they return to the stage after collaborating on a new album.

County Antrim troubador Bob Speers, a former recipient of the Northern Lights Award, completes the lineup at Northern Ireland’s only dedicated listening room.

The Lagan Sessions’ organisers’ no nonsense attitude to live performance – audiences are asked to listen while the performers are on stage – has garnered an enviable reputation. Several high profile musicians have taken to the stage to avail of a wonderful atmosphere where they have tried out new compositions to an audience made up with a sprinkling of songwriters, musicians and those there simply to hear good acoustic music.

Such is the popularity of the Sessions that almost 40 acts have signed up for a predicted sell-out autumn season with many more already enquiring about next year!

The new season of the Lagan Sessions begins on Sunday August 24 at 7.30pm. Admission is £3.



Sunday 17th was yet another excellent evening at the sessions.  We had a great turnout and the audience was well rewarded with high class performances by all the artists.

David McCann

David McCann started the evening off with a selection of his beautifully written songs. A self confessed lover of fairy tales he took the audience through stories inspired by the 1001 nights (dealing with carpet cleaning) with allusions to Edward Lear’s Owl and the Pussycat and strange proclivities towards female meteorologists, all given the unique McCann flavour. David has been compared to artists such as Ralph McTell and whilst at times there are hints of other influences he is of course his own man and much younger. He also performed his excellent instrumental “Wedding Dances”  pointing out to the audience that as it was an instrumental he would not be singing and he was accurate in that prediction.

The highlight of David’s near perfect set came just before the end when he fell off the back of the stage and it was only through the timely intervention of his friend and carer Steve Amos that a major accident was avoided.

Edelle McMahon

It was great to have Edelle McMahon back at the sessions, asked at short notice to perform because one of the originally billed performers dropped out at the last minute

Edelle stepped bravely into the breach and sang a selection of beautiful songs many of which she had co-written with Jim Johnson, one in a language that even she could not understand. Edelle is renowned for singing songs in which people die tragically, accidentally or even terminally and rivals Die Hard 2 and 3 in the number of people she can bump off in even a short set. Tonight however she seemed to be a little less lethal and the death toll was lower, albeit the maiming count was above her average.

Camel Hatt

Catherine aka Camel Hatt performed next in a solo capacity and treated us to a selection of, at times, too short songs with sweet almost childlike lyrics which also contained some more mature themes and messages, a good example being her song “Control”. Multi instrumentalist she played a sky blue guitar, keyboard and ukulele. Husband Geoff joined her for one song reproducing as a live performance a song that had only been performed in the studio including bubble noises produced with a glass of water and a straw and a thumb piano.

Geoff Hatt and the Rockpool Band

Geoff Hatt and the Rockpool Band finished off the evening with a varied repertoire of Geoff’s songs. Geoff adds a new dimension to song writing introducing musical theatre themes and plenty of zany humour as well as thoughtful insights on life. Geoff, like his wife, also plays keyboard, guitar and ukulele and we were given a selection of styles from rock and roll, rock and droll and even one in which he played the parts of three hillbilly brothers. His final song, “Absolute Shocker”, incorporating a frighteningly accurate Terry Thomas impersonation was a fitting end to an extremely entertaining evening.