Gig Review: Ryan McMullan, Mercury Lounge

Ryan McMullan NYC

Hello first gig review of 2020! I introduced gig reviews to my blog last year because I do tend to go to a lot of concerts. I also have an A-Level in Music that I have never done anything with (unfortunately) and also just happen to love music in general. I’m also all about writing about what you love, not just what people will click on. 

So we will be continuing on with the gig reviews for 2020 since I have a lot coming up this year in New York: Dermot Kennedy, Rhys Lewis, Niall Horan, Lewis Capaldi and Stormzy. That’s the ones I’ve bought tickets for so far, so there could be more. 

Anyway, back to this music review in particular. An Irish singer, who’d have guessed?

Who, what, where?

Ryan McMullan is an Irish singer-songwriter from County Down, Northern Ireland. A lot of my friends back home are big fans and not going to lie, I only knew one of his songs – Bowie on the Radio – but was mostly there because he sings an amazing rendition of Streets of New York, which is a traditional Irish song about emigration to America. It’s one of my all-time favourite songs and being able to hear that in New York City itself was going to be something special.

The intimate gig took place on Friday night in the Mercury Lounge, right by the famous Katz’s Diner on East Houston Street, in the Lower East Side. There were around 100-200 people in the room and I was right by the front of the stage, prime photography spot. 

There was a mix of Irish and American in the room, but I had expected it to be mainly Irish as I hadn’t heard Ryan’s music played anywhere outside of Northern Ireland never mind the whole way over to America. But there were a few American girls beside us that seemed to know every word to every one of his songs. 

Next stop Madison Square Gardens perhaps?

Ryan McMullan

The support

Ryan’s support act was a Canadian named Ken Yates. He had a great voice and reminded me of Benjamin Leftwich (would very much recommend a listen)as he sang in the same sort of style – a little bit folky, mellow and sad.

One thing I really liked about Ken Yates which had nothing to do with his singing, was his little stories between songs. He gave small anecdotes about everything and anything from Cinderella to his housemates in New York. They got a laugh from the crowd and also had us hanging on to everything he was saying, and thus his next song. 

He’s someone I can see performing a lot live around the world or in somewhere like Nashville but I can’t see him becoming commercially big, but who knows? He’s definitely worth a listen and I even downloaded a few of his songs after his set had finished.

Ken Yates

The verdict

If I didn’t know many songs by Ryan McMullan before last week, I definitely will soon. He was phenomenal. An amazing singer with an amazing voice and the ability to play both the piano and guitar to accompany himself with no backing band.

Like a few other people that I’ve seen live, but had no real intrigue to see before, I still don’t think I would listen to him on my Spotify or Apple Music. I don’t know, I just wouldn’t go to search his name as I’d much rather listen to him perform live. There’s something about his voice that just doesn’t come across the same when it’s been recorded and fine-tuned. 

I think someone like Ryan needs to have a Johnny Cash Folsom Prison Blues album. I’m not suggesting Ryan get himself to Crumlin Road Jail in Antrim, but a live recording album of some sort would be great for a voice like his.

In regards to hearing Streets of New York live in New York, I’ll definitely be remembering it but for all the wrong reasons. Back home, it’s seen as sad and meaningful song. Since that song has made Ryan quite famous, a lot of people in the crowd were shouting for it from early on.

However, when the time came, the very drunken American girls beside me had learnt every word and were belting it out trying to make it a lot quicker than it’s meant to be (and how Ryan was playing it) and to be quite blunt, ruined it for the rest of us that love the song and just wanted to listen to him sing it.

Ryan is definitely one I would be rushing to see live again, that’s for sure (but maybe back in Ireland). And for only $15?! A steal.


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