Liam O’Connor at Ronnie Scott’s
Irish born accordion prodigy, Liam O’Connor played an intimate afternoon performance at the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, where Jimi Hendrix did his last ever live gig. As it happens, Liam O’Connor has been dubbed the “Jimi Hendrix of the accordion” – large boots to fill – which, impressively, fit him perfectly.
The concert kicked off with the smooth jazz sound of O’Connor’s band. Comprised of guitar, piano, double bass, saxophone and drums, they accompanied him as he entered the spotlight and immediately immersed the audience with his awe inspiring accordion playing. The sheer virtuosity of O’Connor’s talent was astonishing. His genius is evident in the fusion of his home-grown Celtic folk sound with an electric splash of other influences, including jazz, samba and reggae, resulting in an innovative flair.
O’Connor captured the crowd’s heart, and his passion and spirit screamed through his music. This obviously runs in the family, as he welcomed his three children onto the stage to accompany him on a song, resulting in a heartening performance which left you helplessly beaming. A highlight of the session was O’Connor and co.’s performance of newest single Tico Tico – the song that got him into the Guinness Book of World Records for the “fastest fingers”. Tico Tico is samba influenced, but retains the earthed roots of his Irish heritage, and when it breaks down into O’Connor’s fast technical flurries it is truly a sight to see. His powerful performance was enhanced with Hendrix-esque moves as he slid down onto his knees and played his instrument while lying on his back.
O’Connor’s closing performance was a reggae tribute, with the double bass providing the soulful undertone and percussion to accompany it. The song evolved into a cover of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry, and O’Connor intended the audience to participate with singing and dancing. The crowd turned sheepish but there would no doubt have been a better reception in an evening performance where the cocktails flow more readily.
Liam O’Connor is a true pioneer, as well as a passionate and gifted artist who went far beyond expectations and owned the stage with his accordion. If you are a jazz fan, or fancy something a little out of the ordinary, O’Connor is more than worth a listen.