Liam Gessen performing at Methuselah, Pittsfield MA, March 17 2019
by Jimm O’D
Tony Lee Thomas’ opening set certainly got the place revved and ready.
As for me, TLT was all I came for. I figured he’s an early set; no cosmic bonus points lost if I bail out as soon as he’s done. With a day of skiing plus taking in two bands (right there at the mountan, that is), I rationalized that it was OK to gitalong home. But… then again… no harm in staying put for a bit. No sense missing an opportunity. Snobbery, me? Thank you, I think not.
If the headliner isn’t entertaining enough, I don’t have to hang. Right?
Liam Geddes is, right now, into his second set. My self-imposed timer ran out about, hmm… two hours ago? Yes. And it looks like I ain’t goin’ nowhere just yet. For one thing, the audience here at Methuselah are respectful – to the artists and to each other – and even to a humble scribe as well. As soon as one of ’em notices that they’re standing right in front of where I’m sitting (and working), they kinda flinch and then apologize. And then they even move (that’s the best part).
The young Irishman, Liam Geddes, played a couple of songs before my Big Decision Point came. Then it happened. Just like it used to, back when this scribing thing was still brand-spanky-new for me and for the some-many hundreds (or #? I dunno) around the area, the region, and the country who saved my life by receiving, responding, accepting and approving my stuff. A write-up or two even went global, with hits like a virus. But enough about me.
With no intention to stay or leave, the moment that snapped me to attention came in the form of a cover of a Christy Moore song. Mr Moore’s “Ride On” drove me out of my seat, tablet at the ready, to record the remainder of the beautiful ballad. Another such moment would present not long after. A song I’ve heard a million times with the jaded ears of a ho-hum teenager who thinks he already knows whassup… such a song, handled by this Liam Geddes fellow, well it just grabs my attention, reaches down deep, and touches my heart.
My feeling-response is entirely emotional. It is visceral. It feels spiritual. Now I have some idea of how profound and important Irish music is, and “Danny Boy” in particular. Damn shame I didn’t get off my arse a little sooner so’s I could share the whole thing.
But wait- there’s more!
The voice of Liam Geddes rang out strong and pure with another “Danny Boy” as the second set closer. I hopped up a wee bit more quickly this time and managed to get almost all of it. A wonderful bonus comes with the performance captured in this video. The camera-work is admittedly amatuerish, but adequate, I hope. The bonus feature, however, will add enough to the total entertainment (indeed, inspirational) package.
The venue’s host-ish individual came up to the microphone to say a few words of appreciation. Turns out I am perfectly, fully, humanly normal in my response to that venerable Irish anthem. Liam first started letting it loose from his inner being a good decade ago, and these very people, the music-lovers here at Methuselah’s, have been in love with him ever since.
And it didn’t end there! Another compatriot came up and offered up an a Cappella number, embellished with his own smatters of vocal percussives. Finally another small speech came from a long-time supporter, the very man who first acted as sponsor to the singer and continues that privilege annually. Like next year for Saint Patrick’s Day, f’rinstance- Liam is planning to do a benefit then. It seems he has taken a liking to Pittsfield, even as these folks in Pittsfield have taken to loving the lad.
So this is how it works. I sniff around and come across all kinds of talented people who play music. Some indeterminate number of them, not regrettably as far as I know, continue to occupy my attentions. Then I go again to keep up with ’em and, next thing ya know, another one rides the bus – a young irishman, in this case.
Also, it seems worth noting, Liam did NOT begin his life in music as a Backstreet Boy. That’s just a venomous and silly rumor.