So aptly put in the title of this article, newly opened vegan-friendly coffee establishment 387 Ormeau Road collaborated with Solid Choice Industries to put on a very intimate show with, ahem, murder-balladeers Robyn G. Sheils and Hatchett Field. Limited to 20 guests – the shop was buzzing with conversation, strong whiffs of delightful freshly ground coffee filled the air and a selection of fine vegan pizzas was on offer, quickly consumed in piranha-esque fashion. The pizza-man is yet to be found.
With no PA, the relaxed setting was reconfigured to accommodate the sonic output of the two singer-songwriters present. Tables were twisted and turned when both artists commenced their sanguinary and melancholic storytelling, with plenty of witty banter for good measure. Grinders stopped, attendees sat in respectful silence, the transient sounds of the surrounding urban jungle seeping in through the window added to the overall atmosphere. Passers-by were intrigued by the event, the rhythms seeped out the small window encouraging them to stop in transit to listen. Some guy dropped his lenses, I wonder who that could’ve been.
Hatchet Field (a.k.a. Hornby) approached the corner stage with his decorated banjo featuring two axes crossing over on the skin. His songs and powerful storytelling battled with themes of murderous daughters and the search for precious resources in times of strife. Poetic in nature, the banjo stabs and the resonations of the dobro reflected the sullen feel in his lyricism. His acapella at the end got the crowd joining in on claps and stomps. Hornby has been a familiar face on the Belfast scene for many years, involving himself in many creative endeavors and the rest! The last time I saw him perform live was in 2012 with The Continuous Battle of Order as part of the final Radar shows at Queen’s
After a quick coffee and smoke break (maybe an extra sneaky slice of pizza for good measure), singer/songwriter/dancer/actress/80’s metal enthusiast Robyn G. Sheils broke out the guitar to serenade the audience. Slow paced as if on a rockin’ chair, his blend of folk music was as dark in character as was much of the coffee in the room. Robyn performed a selection of mesmerizing tunes from his back catalogue and secret vault including ‘Trading Insults’, ‘I’d Go To Funerals’ and ‘Hello Death’. The gentle strokes and plucking of bright strings with the grit in his voice reflected the strong emotion behind the songwriting. The walls of the venue were hard-pressed with the massive aura his music created. Complimenting his set with plenty of humour and charisma, he drew everyone in effortlessly. Many tongue-in-cheek comments were exchanged, and even a few beady stares out the front window at his new fans, curious as to what was happening!
A very different setting for a different kind of Friday night out. I very much look forward to round two. Follow Solid Choice Industries for future updates on SCIx387 shows and other events across the city!
Words and photos: Steven Donnelly