The last time Mick Flannery came to Canada was 10 years ago as part of what he described as “a kind of singer-songwriter exchange scheme.”
Flannery and five other musicians from Cork, Ireland, journeyed to St. John’s, N.L. to perform for a couple weeks, while six Newfoundlanders make the trip to Ireland to do the same. Flannery said the city’s Celtic heritage made him think of home.
“It’s funny to cross the Atlantic and feel as though you just crossed the bridge in Cork into Waterford,” Flannery said, referring to a pair of neighbouring Irish counties.
“Apparently there’s a lot of very close ties to Irish towns there and you can hear the accents still … it’s interesting. A similar sense of humour as well.”
Now Flannery’s back for his first proper multi-city Canadian tour. The campaign kicks off with a sold-out Toronto show before a string of dates on the West Coast opening for Nova Scotian singer Jenn Grant. Flannery performs at the Queen’s on Thursday, Feb. 8.
Flannery said news of the Toronto sell-out came as an encouraging sign. He said organizers used data from the music streaming service Spotify to rightly predict that he would have an audience waiting for him. Flannery said it’s an exciting privilege to be making a debut in a new country.
“It’s just an extension of the luckiness of my life, really, that I get to do things like this,” he said, noting that he doesn’t get to go abroad too often.
“It’s always good to kind of get the opportunity to get to travel whilst having a motive other than just being a tourist and spending money. It’s nice to have something to do, a means to an end, I guess.”
Flannery said he hopes to make a good impression by lightening the mood of his typically plaintive repertoire.
“I have quite the litany of absolute misery when it comes to songs so I’ll try and pepper it with something lighter and maybe something with more rhythm,” he said.
“I’ll try not to give the version of myself that is absolute darkness.”
It won’t be another decade before Flannery returns to Canada. He said he’s planning on coming back for next summer’s festival season.
“I’m hoping to garner some type of market there for myself, which I will use to my advantage in the future,” he said with a laugh.
“I tend to use the citizens of your country to my benefit.”
WHAT’S ON … Mick Flannery opens for Jenn Grant at the Queen’s on Thursday, Feb. 8. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.