With the release of his new album ‘Year of the bird’ (named for his daughter), Oliver Cole has taken his songwriting to a new and interesting place. It is a highly expressive, honest, and at times, experimental piece of work that Cole has spent the last two years perfecting. For the album’s official launch, Cole takes these qualities a step further.

For the show, Cole has enlisted his ex-Turn band-mates Gavin Fox (bass), Ciaran Kavanagh (guitar), and Binzer Brennan (drums) – with Cole fronting they make a formidable sound. Songs from the new album are given an injection of volume and ferocity with opener ‘Helium Heart’ making good use of the three guitar amps on-stage. When the volume does lower for acoustic songs, Cole holds the crowd’s attention and even induces a singalong.

The night is highly personable and it’s down to both Cole and his band’s showmanship and control of the audience. For acoustic song ‘The Happy Prince’, Cole is joined on-stage by Erin McClure and introduces the song by giving a synopsis of an Oscar Wilde story, for which the song is written about. Almost all of the songs in the set are introduced with a short explanation of origin, giving the night a feel similar to that of VH1’s storyteller series.

As the set nears completion the audience is treated to an old fan-favourite from Cole’s days in Turn, some more singalongs, as well as healthy doses of noise from the band.

It’s hard to tell if Cole plans to take this album on the road and tour a full album cycle, or if he is happy to have just completed it for release into the music world; but with the backing of Gary Lightbody’s (Snow Patrol) Label ‘Third Bar’, critical acclaim and a loyal fan base, Cole can rest easy knowing he has only good options ahead of him.

Reviewed by Stevie D’Arcy