There are many Opera Houses around the globe, and it is true to say that while they may not be practicioners of lieder or libretto, the members of Cry Before Dawn are a band which any Opera House should be glad to entertain on their stages. The Opera House in question in this recording is in Wexford, the setting for the annual  Wexford Festival which always begins in October.

The band called it a day for the first time in the early 1990s, following high hopes for global success which certainly should have come about, if musical imagination and prowess were the criteria. But such success did not materialise, despite truly powerful songs like Gone Forever, Witness to the World, Girl in the Ghetto, The Seed That's Been Sown and No Living Without You, which are all included here.

The only band to ride that eighties wave of epic soulfullness who still endure in effect is U2. But they have supposedly evolved and don’t even sound much like they used to in the early days. Simple Minds took that epic sound a great distance, but the band only release an occasional record nowadays. Big Country, another Scottish band, had notable success with Celt-driven passion, but theirs too was a finite career.

Fickle certainly, those pop decades, but not necessarily the hard-core following who have kept the faith. There is clearly a fan base still for Cry Before Dawn who play two dates in Dublin’s Button Factory and the Spiegeltent in Wexford on October 11 and 23, respectively.

This live album (recorded at the Opera House over two nights in May 2011) was produced and mixed by the band’s current guitarist, Steve Belton, formerly of 80s duo, The Fountainhead. Original guitarist Tony Hall forged that ringing, jangly sound that is CBD’s trademark sound. It easily accomodated tin whistle and an occasional blast of pipes from the band’s tuneful singer Brendan Wade.

Belton keeps the Tony Hall templates throughout, but has individual flourishes which make it different. He fires up a fluidly magnetic solo on Always to Win and plays with great expression throughout the record. Dara Munnis on keyboards softens the guitar-led sound with particular ingenuity on White Strand. Vinnie Doyle and Pat Hayes are, as always, exemplary on bass and drums respectively.

The live record also includes the recent single Only Want you For Your Soul. Also availble, incidentally is the The Best of Cry Before Dawn, released by Sony Music.“I’m sorry for those of you with bad backs, this is not for you,” singer Brendan warns his Wexford faithful, as the opening harmonics of Gone Forever blister into sound. One gathers there was a lot of seismic tremor in Wexford those two nights back in the summer of 2011.

Paddy Kehoe