Megan O’Neill – Rat Bar

August 30, 2018
Rat Bar, London
“There’s a wonderful smell of burnt toast”

Megan O’Neill absolutely nailed the aroma that permeated Rat Bar. Or so we thought until the barman announced that it was actually the smell of the pizza, then she had to backpedalled on the ‘burnt’ bit!

When O’Neill opened the show with Half Of Myself, the people in the bar didn’t stop talking but I allowed them to keep their limbs. 

She followed up with Don’t You and These Walls, praising the venue’s great acoustics. Unfortunately this meant the ambient chatter carried *really* well.

A cover piqued some interest among the talkative yuppies. *Three* people were actually listening. To be fair, one of them was me, but we had to take what we could get at that point! O’Neill announced “the reason that you probably don’t recognise any of these songs is that I wrote them, apart from that Rita Ora one.” (Obviously I recognised everything except the Rita Ora one. )

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Then was a welcome return to the set for songs I knew Stories To Tell. It sounded great but I could no longer remember what music was like without mindless chatter and espresso machines in the background. O’Neill segued into one of her oldest recording songs, Coming Home. I realised that my main purpose in life was to peer pressure people into applauding. I was fine with this.

London City Ghosts is SUCH a great song. O’Neill should definitely play it more often. Like maybe another three times right now? No-one else would notice so let’s do this, yeah? LOVE that damn song.

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Seriously though, O’Neill has more than enough quality originals to fill a two set performance. She introduced Bottle by explaining that she wrote it with James from Starsailor ::whispers:: I don’t think it was a Starsailor crowd, Megan. It was, however, a good time to point out the pressing social issue highlighted in the song. Sure, alcoholism is a problem and all, but can we take a second to appreciate the line: “I wish this stool lay lower so my feet could touch the ground” PREACH! This venue used to have comfy sofas at the front but replaced them with stools.  WTF?! #shortgirlproblems

O’Neill slayed the keys on Without. This lass = THE BEST. Sure wish I got to hear her for the first time for free at a venue with great sound and really took the time to appreciate it ::stares at camera::

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Set 2, and after gently dissing the sound guy (classic O’Neill!), she came back strong. There was a new addition to the set; a first outing for Treadin’ Water on piano. More of this, Megan, please and thank you.

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Ghost Of You was full on with that immense vocal. Just to recap, Megan O’Neill is the best. Most of the people had gone by this point but the ones that stayed got louder to balance it out. Bless their hearts. It’s almost like it would be easier to have a conversation somewhere without live music ::rolls eyes::

Time for another cover, this time by First Aid Kit. THERE WAS SILENCE. Bloody disconcerting. Thankfully somebody behind the bar started talking and normality was restored. Shout out also to the guy on his dinner break who found a great place to sit…

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O’Neill previewed a new song, asking the audience to tell her if it was shit or not. Not, obviously, but you do have to wonder whether you’ve spent too much time with a singer when you know instantly she’s made a mistake in a song that you’ve never heard before, when you’re not even looking at her. That’s also a no because it’s not actually possible to spend too much time with Megan O’Neill.

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Several people were genuinely listening now and even in engaged in some Ryan/Bryan Adams banter ahead of her cover of Ryan’s Sweet Carolina.

She confided that she wrote Why I Need You hoping it would take off as a song for other musicians to sing, but ended up being invited to three weddings to sing it. “This was not my plan”, she joked, “my plan was just to make all the money!” Her voice, though. Who else would you choose?

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Now that You’re Mine was the second of her wedding songs. Her friends had their first dance to it at their ceremony in New Zealand and as lots of mutual friends were in attendance, they sang along. The Kiwis in the crowd assumed that O’Neill was a huge star over here (which she should be). By this point she’d completely won the crowd over (kudos for the dogged perseverance) and got them singing along: “The lyrics are ‘oh yeah,’ you can’t say no!” A bit like me when I find out Megan O’Neill was playing live even when I knew the venue wasn’t the right fit for stellar Americana music, really!

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Fresh from her three performances at Megan O’Neill Fest The Long Road Festival, you can catch Megan O’Neill live on Thursday September 20 at 229 The Venue, during Daisy Chute’s album launch show.

Don’t forget to make your choice at pledgemusic.com/projects/megan-oneill to help fund Megan’s next album. There are some fantastic options including handwritten lyrics, a songwriting lesson and even a song written especially for you! Or, if you’d prefer Especially For You, you can pledge for her to do a cover instead! 

Like what you see? There are more photos of the show over on Flickr. Please follow me there, and here:

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Want more photos? Try my travel, nature and street photography website, Out To The Streets!

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