News & Press / Live - reviews

Posted in Live - reviews on 20/05/2011

The Sugar Club, Dublin.

January 27th 2006.

Even to the most fervent devotees of the Irish singer-songwriter scene, the name Marc Carroll will mean little. Woefully ignored by the masses, the Dubliner's Ten Of Swords debut failed to impact when released in early 2002 just before the hunger for guitar-wielding troubadours took hold. With those at home unwilling to bite, Carroll did as he did at 16 and left for London. There he's enjoyed modest success, receiving rave reviews from Mojo and Uncut. You might say that he hasn't looked back.

Flying solo for his first hometown show in over four years, the full force of Carroll's voice shines through, with simple guitar and piano backing bringing to the fore his strong lyrical ability. The anger of 'Till These Bars Break' and the enchanting 'A Way Back Out Of Here' are early highlights, though it's his older, over-produced early material which benefits most from a stripped back live performance. The poppy 'Crashpad Number' receives early cheers while 'Ms Lullaby' and 'You Saved My Life (Again Last Night)' emphasise Carroll's great gift of being able to powerfully take hold of an audience, while offering little but the sheer strength of his songs. Let's hope the wait's not as long next time round.
Hot Press

Posted in Live - reviews on 20/05/2011

The Sugar Club, Dublin.

January 27th 2006. (4 star review)

Marc Carroll is a pallid, careworn singer-songwriter who croons about doomed love affairs and crushed ambitions. For all the tearful candour of his music, nobody could mistake him for a contemporary of Paddy Casey or James Blunt. To begin with, Carroll - a Dubliner based in London - has an eerie, waxy complexion and eyes that glimmer darkly, and maybe even a little dangerously. From a distance, he might pass for the sadder, angrier younger brother of Antony Hegarty (of Antony and The Johnson's fame) or a teenage Cure fan trapped in the body of a world-weary thirtysomething.

His songs - always stark, often cathartic - echo Hegarty's otherworldly pathos. But while Antony and The Johnson's deal in cosmic sadness, Carroll gives vent to whiplash fury. In full flight, the singer is an arresting sight. Carroll takes to the Sugar Club stage in a boxer's hooded top. Beneath the cowl, he has the air of a monk undergoing a crisis of the soul. He performs with eyes downcast, straggles of hair in his face, a weird grimace screwed to his lips.

Lyrically, Carroll is rooted somewhere between the bedsit and the blazing coals of hell. Life, you are tempted to conclude, has kicked the singer in the teeth to many times for him to forget, and music is his only way of kicking back.

Occasionally, he permits the tempest to abate. Settling behind a keyboard, Carroll conjures soft piano textures and sings in a plaintive falsetto. These supper club ballads are no less grieving than the rest of his songbook. However, they suggest a tenderness, an acknowledgement of hope, that Carroll has elsewhere exorcised from his repertoire.

The change of mood appears to agree with the singer. He faces the crowd for the first time, risks a smile and a few self deprecating quips. After Carroll's long dark night of the soul, it feels as though the sun has suddenly risen, that dark clouds have briefly parted.
Irish Independent.

Posted in Live - reviews on 20/05/2011

The Spirit Store, Dundalk.

January 26th 2006

Mooching around the ex-pat periphery of Irish rock for many years now, Marc Carroll

has gradually established himself as something of an unwitting, unwilling maverick.

A founding member of the venerated Dublin band Puppy Love Bomb (perhaps remembered as much now for their "Dublin Is Dead" T-shirt as for their extremely catchy pop/punk music), Carroll has eked out a living in London for the past 10 years, releasing a few albums (Ten Of Swords, All Wrongs Reversed and World On A Wire) to heaps of critical success but not much else besides.

Incorrectly percieved as the Irish saviour of power pop (although he does that genre better than most), latterly Carroll has dispensed with his love of guitar drenched "B" bands (Beach Boys, Beatles, Byrds) and grown into the skin of someone that can fuse pristine pop/punk and morose, reflective songwriting with Irish folk idioms without coming accross as a chancer.

He rarely returns home to play gigs, but this performance - part of a triple pack of concerts around the country - even further enhanced his reputation as a solitary and singular songwriter who is surely in it for the love of the game and the long haul. Well, you would have to be to play in front of 10 people, a gathering that included the promoter, the sound man, the bar staff and yours truly.

Unphased by lack of atmosphere and poor attendance, Carroll filled his one hour set with songs from his back catalouge (every one a winner) and some superb covers (Including Grant Hart's heartbreaking 2541). With a strong voice a fine, tough acoustic guitar playing style, Carroll put to rest the power pop image (for a while at least; his next album, he imparts, will be electric guitar heavy) via a sequence of bruised and battered Dylanesque flourishes, as equally adept as idiosyncratic yet always beholden to no one but himself.

For an artist of his calibre to play in front of less than a dozen people borders on the shameful; stuff em all that didn't show up, seemed to be Carroll's implicit response.

By implication alone he was dead right.
The Irish Times.

Posted in Live - reviews on 20/05/2011

Guilford Festival

July 5th 2003

Marc Carroll follows, saying nothing at first, instead letting his songs picture storm-lashed apocalypse and drug drained romance, the Irishman's attacking presence ignores the crowd's somnolence, burning though it.

Posted in Live - reviews on 20/05/2011


November 2002.

Marc Carroll - 100 Club 18 November 2002

Remember when you were young?
You probably still are but here's some free advice. Those years when you were at sixth form, when the whole world suddenly begins to come into focus and you realise that things will never be this perfect again? You realise that youth is finite? Those are the years you will always remember. You will never have it so good.

Those are the years when time stands still, waiting for 'real life' to sweep in and whirl you away forever. That's the time from when you learn to really love music; ascribing each song you hear a particular meaning in your life. That's the time when you have the freedom to go and see your musical idols play live; to go to festivals, to live life for the music you hear. It's when you define yourself, your groups of friends and the way you see the world by who it is you like to listen to. It's also the time you learn to be more eclectic, finding whatever that something is that you like about music, and realising it's not just about the mainstream or the present. There are whole decades to explore and a future that you heard somewhere at the hands of a DJ.

Marc Carroll makes you remember all those reasons you loved music. You probably wouldn't have been into him at that age, although if you had, your life would have been the richer for it. He gives you a reason to love music again, offering you something so honest and unsullied you remember what it's like to lose a moment for a song, to uncover a genre you hadn't noticed peeking out underneath your usual brand of character-defining rock. He takes you back to the time when you looked at the adult world and wondered what the hell the fuss was about. It's not about bills and houses, it's about music and freedom, oh - and love.

Marc's staunchly honest, uncompromising, polymorphic mixture of punk, country, gospel and whatever it is he calls this creates a sound that halts you in your tracks just long enough for you to remember why it was you loved music in the first place. Everyone should see him.
Julia Willis


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