‘Eyes that flirt with a tear are common round here, and misery loves company they say.’ Those fabulous Jack Teagarden lyrics filled Queen’s Hall during Mary Coughlan’s recent concert there. Coughlan, a veteran of life, the stage, and anything else that’s left between, has full command of her voice, the audience, and anywhere that might be playing the Blues. You can meet her there.
Her voice - smoky, growling, yet also capable of breaking free into the ether in yelping wails - is hypnotic and irresistible. Supported well on piano and double bass, she manages to give both flight and weight to her sound, which is filled with her years of experience as well as her open heart. Despite all the discussion - both from Coughlan herself and the press - of the singer’s tough times, her performance is not world-weary. There is an innocence and a youthfulness about her stage presence and a mischievous commitment to hope. She’s lithe, in her way, and sweetly approachable. She feels like a friend. A friend who can really sing. But she can bring you down, too. There is no amount of whisky in the world that can numb a person to her cover of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, which she sings as a ballad. If you make it out to see her on her next tour, bring a tissue. Bring a box.