One of my favourite singer-songwriters, Tom Baxter, has finally made it back to Dublin after a hiatus of five years. After postponing his comeback gig last September 2012 as the album wasn’t complete, he rescheduled for Friday March 22nd which happily coincided with my birthday – what a lovely present! I like to think that was serendipitious as I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate. I love the Academy as a music venue with the stage in the centre and the acoustics are also spot on. We braved the elements outside but it was worth it. Support for the evening was in the form of Sam Semple. All the lads joined Sam for “Forgive and Forget”. It was great to see that the Academy so full. Tom’s fans were out in force for his comeback. He kicked off his set with an oldie but a goodie and from the first song we were sold. It’s amazing the effect Tom has on an audience – he has the power to silence the room with his voice. He was joined on stage by some old faces, Oli Langford on violin and Danny Keane on piano and a new face, Sam Walker on drums. He introduced the new songs from his third album, The Uncarved Block – Part One, which are beautiful and more mature-sounding. There was the obligatory sing-along for ‘Better’. I loved hearing the old favourites like My Declaration and Skybound but it was also nice to hear the new songs too. Tom is at his best when his songs are pared back and acoustic and the new album showcases this to perfection. His new album is on sale exclusively at the gigs which Tom stayed back to sign albums after the gig and say hello to all his fans. The sign of a musician who appreciates his fans and judging from Friday night, it’s clear that is a two-way street. I’m sure he’ll be back to our shores very soon and I am already looking forward to Part Two.

“Row, row, row your boat gently up the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!”