THREE years ago there was an unmistakeable buzz surrounding Gemma Hayes. After she signed to one of the then hippest labels, Source, the Tipperary singer's debut album, 'Night On My Side', was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. She had little trouble selling out her UK concerts.
Then it all went wrong. Hayes suffered two years of writer's block and a much-anticipated follow-up was left on the back burner. After decamping to Los Angeles, her mojo returned and - with the help of sometime REM and Beck drummer Joey Waronker - she wrote and recorded a second album.
'The Roads Don't Love You', which was released last autumn, marked a progression from her debut and consequently this Dublin show relied heavily on material from that album. Her three-piece band may have played just twice before, but they had little trouble in delivering faithful reproductions of the album's finest moments.
Two songs stood out: 'Two Step' recalled Alanis Morissette's passionate delivery, while a supremely assured 'Happy Sad' (not to be confused with the Tim Buckley tune) highlighted her ability to write top-notch radio-friendly hits when she puts her mind to it.
Those expecting a muted delivery were in for a shock because the Gemma Hayes of 2006 really rocks out, and her set included a cover of 'Whole Wide World', one of the more worthwhile efforts to come from the pen of British punk oddball, Wreckless Eric.
And a new song, provisionally titled 'In Over My Head' showed that Hayes has well and truly left writer's block behind her.
It didn't all go to plan, though. 'Easy on the Eye' - which she billed as a "Ballyporeen love song" - dragged along. However, it proved to be an apt song title: clad in oh-so-fashionable skinny jeans, the radiant Hayes exuded a sexiness that appealed to at least half of the audience.