Lorraine’s big break

Lorraine o reilly big break russell crowe

After more than a decade of hard slog, a text from Russell Crowe means Lorraine O’Reilly now faces becoming an ‘overnight’ success

This week sees Lorraine O’Reilly take on her biggest musical gig to date, as she joins Hollywood legend Russell Crowe’s Indoor Garden Party on stage for their mini UK and Ireland tour, after being personally asked by the actor to fill in for original group member Samantha Banks, writes Fiona O’Brien.

Although only confirmed just over a week ago, it has been a long period of negotiations but Cavan-born Lorraine could not let herself believe that it was actually going to happen until she finally saw the tour poster uploaded to Crowe’s Twitter followers of 2.7 million.

“We’ve been in talks for months, but I didn’t want to jinx myself until I knew for sure it was set in stone. “I kept my mouth literally shut about it, you always have that fear that it’s you it is going to go wrong for,” she says.

Lorraine and Russell initially met when they recorded a duet on the new album. It was a song that Lorraine had recorded five years beforehand, but was updated when the chance to get the actor on the track.

“The song Hand in Hand, was written by Ronan MacManus for the BibleCodes previous album Walk Like Giants. It is extremely personal for him as is about the passing of his parents, and was always written in duet form with a female vocal.

“We sang the parts of his mother and father in conversation. It never made the album at the time, but when they said they wanted to make a new album with tracks that were left over he said that it would be used this time around and that we would update it.

“The guys became friendly with Russell and asked him to come on board for the album and it was decided that this was the song that would suit him best.

Down to earth

“So I ended up recording it with Russell, although he was in his own studio in Australia at the time. But when he was next in London myself, Ronan and Enda (Mulloy, BCS bassist and songwriter) went to meet him.

“He set up this big lunch in the Dorchester Hotel, had a keg of Guinness on tap for us and everything. He is really down to earth.”

In July, Russell knew that Samantha Banks, who previously featured in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Nancy competition on BBC, would not be able to commit to a UK tour due to work, and needed a female vocalist to replace the parts she had recorded on the album.

“What is really exciting about this is that I am not a support act, I am in the band itself and I have to keep pinching myself.

“I get to sing some solos, and then a duet with Russell as well as perform with the other band members Scott Grimes and Alan Doyle.

“Then Carl Kirk is involved with the music production side of it. He’s written music and produced for One Direction before.

“It really is the biggest thing to have happened to me in my career.”

Lorraine is known on the London scene for her country, bluesy voice that can adapt easily to big rock power numbers too, which is far removed from the musical theatre tones of Samantha Banks on the album.

“I think Russell is really into that Irish sound, and country. That’s what the album is like so it is interesting to see the dynamic change from the original songs that Samantha sang on.”

And with her rehearsals with the whole band only starting last weekend, just five days before the opening gig in London’s Union Chapel in Islington this Thursday night, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to nail the performance.

“I recently had an operation so I’ve been out of action for a few weeks, but I’ve just been listening to the tracks to familiarise myself with them.

“I have my stuff down, so I’m going in with all my homework done! It’ll only be five days but we will be ready. We have to be! I’m really looking forward to the Union Chapel as I’ve never played there before, and then Leeds, and then of course finishing up in Dublin.

Read more in this week’s The Irish World

Tickets on sale now at: unionchapel.org.uk

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