Ronan Kealy is an alternative folk singer from Kilcummin, Co. Kerry who is described as somebody who plays slightly unhinged, sometimes heady tunes. His second album `The Great Irish Famine` was released last September and is the follow up to 2019`s acclaimed `Pull The Right Rope` album. This Birmingham date is in the homestretch of an eight-date tour named `The Great England, Scotland & Wales Tour`. 

The majority of tonight`s set is understandably culled from the latest release and opens with the wistful and dreamy `The Long Meadows` before sharing the title track of the album in `No Country For Young Men` a song that may well relate to the Irish diaspora due to the lack of work opportunities at home. Ronan and his band Dan Walsh on drums and flute, Tony McLoughlin on mandolin and Phil Christie on keys and flute offer up what I think is the instrumental `Daly`s Well` before the comically self-reflecting `This Is My Body`. 

We dip back in time to the previous release with `Back Of Her` with it`s meandering long intro which played live sounded like something off Van Morrison`s `Astral Weeks` album. The deeply reflective `Good Friday` gives us something to consider before `No Snitch` a song about swimming in South County Dublin and the wonderfully titled `Hungover At Mass` a song about the fear of God from the 2016 `Fuck Off I Love You` EP sort of closes out the set. A Catholic guilt feeling that I experienced a fair few times in my youth.  

Junior Brother leaves us with a further song with the latest single `Junior Brother`s Favourite` which he confesses is sort of three songs in one and weighs in at nearly twenty-five minutes. It`s an epic submission that takes this intimate crowd on a path which wanders this way and that, up and down and at one time abruptly ends before resuming its spiritual journey. A wonderfully compelling and enthralling listen. As we are about to leave Ronan decides to share a further short composition that may have been `Landlord`s Hum` and that was it. 

This was a really stunning performance from an artist that exudes so much passion and intensity into his eclectic idiosyncratic compositions along with an ironic sense of humour.  

Junior Brother confirmed that he`ll be back again and if he`s as good as his word, it`ll be a further night not to be missed.   

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