Dom Martin // Taylor Lally // Buried In The Hail Tour // Live Review // The Empire Music Hall // Belfast
On a miserable Friday night, punters lined the street outside Belfast’s Empire Music Hall eagerly waiting to catch Dom Martin on the sold-out, penultimate date of his ‘Buried in the Hail Tour’.
Thankfully the hall offered a much warmer environment than the elements outside and it wasn’t long before supporting singer, and songwriter Taylor Lally took to the stage with a set full of acoustic blues-based songs, that accentuated her hypnotic vocal style. Showcasing songs such as “Wake-up,” “Fool” and “Not Trying to Feel Good”. It is easy to see why Taylor is considered a rising star on the Belfast music scene. The mature delivery style combined with sometimes quirky lyrics had fans singing along. Even though it was her first time performing at the Empire, she showed no sign of nerves and delivered each song with a smile, clearly enjoying the reaction from the packed room as she closed out her set with her 2023 single “Dry White Wine”.
After a brief break, Dom Martin unassumingly took his spot on a stool on the stage to begin his set with a couple of acoustic numbers (“The Fall” & “Government”) taken from the Buried in the Hail album which was released earlier in the year. The accomplished solo acoustic work and haunting vocals set the tone for a more introspective start to the main set.
Swapping the acoustic for electric, Dom is joined on stage by Ben Graham (bass) and Aaron McLaughlin (drums) and they rip into the slide-laden, stomping anthem “The Kid”. Quickly followed up by “Belfast Blues” you can tell the atmosphere in the hall has changed. At one point Dom decides to go walkabouts, jumping of the stage while still soloing, he makes his way through the crowd up to the balcony area and back down again, to the amusement of his bandmates he needs some assistance getting back up onto the stage, not missing a note.
By now, handbags, coats and brollies all stashed out of the way, there were a few already dancing. There also were others who preferred to rest their beers on the ledge in front of the stage monitors; just so an adequate level of concentration can be achieved on how very note and sound is formed to create such an infectious groove. It is easy to see why Dom is gaining international recognition for his soulful performances and exceptional guitar playing.
There is no denying the power and emotion in every tune and he is the first to acknowledge Rory Gallagher and Howlin’ Wolf as major influences but the songs draw from a much wider pool, such as folk, Delta blues and of course rock.
As the set continues songs like “Lefty 2 Guns” and “Howling” keep things moving at a lively pace, only briefly slowing down for Dom’s own take on Willie Nelson’s “Crazy”. The performance & intimate setting connected the audience to the raw emotions in the songs, so much so, that the evening flew by, and before you knew it the band drew the main set to a close with “Unhinged”.
Quickly coming back in the stage with a blistering instrumental then dropping into “12 Gauge” and eventually, closing out the evening with “Maxwell Shuffle” both from songs from the 2022 release A Savage Life.
There is no doubt performances don’t come much better than this, and Dom has his stage craft down to a tee, his interaction with the audience and the other members of the band created a shared and memorable experience for all who were lucky enough to be there.