Tucan at the Button Factory – Review

 

While a healthy crowd turned up to see Tucan launch their superb new album Towers, the Button Factory was by no means full which was a real shame as the band served up a musical masterclass with a little help along the way from some musical friends. Those in attendance certainly left happy after a fun filled night that saw the band in top form as they delivered a great mix of new and old tracks along with the obligatory quirky covers that have become somewhat of a trademark of the band.

Mongoose got the evening off to a start by releasing their inner seagull (you probably had to be there) before Tucan, led by guitarists Donal Gunne and Pearse Feeney. They were joined for most of the night by Claudia Schwab, whose violin added a beautiful, haunting layer to the music. She chipped in with a few vocals too and had her own moment in the spotlight when she performed one of her solo tracks towards the end of the evening. On a night that had a bit of everything, Schwab even through in a bit of yodeling during that performance and impressive yodeling it was too.

The brass section were also very good, notably on ‘Cosmo’s Notes’ and when they indulge in a bit of a solo battle at the end of the night. In fact the whole band are brilliant throughout the evening, but what makes Tucan so good is the mastery and interplay of Gunne and Feeney who seem to be able to will their respective fretboards to do whatever the hell they want them to do – meandering effortlessly through folk, funk, flamenco and all stops in between during a mesmeric performance. ‘Healing Harmony’ trades gentle licks before erupting into some furiously speedy riffs while ‘Astrofolk’ is as space aged yet rooted in the influences of the past as the name suggests.

Some friends were also called during proceedings – the Young Folk joined the throng for a unique take on ‘When Doves Cry’, while fellow Sligo men This Side Up delivered some impressive rap verses over a Daft Punk medley. The latter was an enthralling extended jam that was probably the highlight of the evening.

Plus points must also go to the band for not actually bothering to leave the stage and indulging in the whole, tiresome encore charade. They announced their last song and then just played one more anyway – the crowd happily playing the part of vocalist of a Prodigy medley that brought the curtain down on a night when Tucan and friends owned the Button Factory stage.

This article originally appeared on www.dublinconcerts.ie on 6th April 2015

Morrissey at 3Arena – Review

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‘Look at that cow in the field / It knows more than your bride does now.’ That’s a Morrissey lyric. No, really. It is. A man who is generally regarded as one the greatest lyricists of this or any other generation has included those plodding lines in Kick The Bride Down The Aisle, one of the many songs from World Peace Is None of Your Business that are included in the set of his 3 Arena show.

It’s understandable that a musician would want to showcase their new material and perhaps be tired of playing the same old stuff over and over again. This wouldn’t be much of a problem but the fact is that apart from the title track, Istanbul and Neal Cassidy Drops Dead, which all get an airing tonight, it really isn’t a particularly good album and the set’s over-reliance on its material make this gig a bit of a chore. For an artist who is known to inspire such devotion in his followers, it’s telling that there is a lot of chatter during the quieter moments of Smiler With Knife. There are still large swathes of devotees up the front stretching out their hands hoping to touch their hero but generally, there is an air of apathy from both artist and audience.

Things did start off well. The crowd were treated to a montage of Ramones, New York Dolls and Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead Thatcher-baiting on the big screen before the man himself arrived on stage to a backdrop of the Queen giving the middle finger and then Wills and Kate United Kingdumb (see what he did there?) posters as the band launched into fiery versions of The Queen Is Dead and Suedehead.

After that, things just get a little boring and predictable. The band are decked out in ‘Fuck Harvest Records’ t-shirts and there are several digs at the record label that he recently departed in less than favourable circumstances. Those that have read Morrissey’s autobiography will know that he’s not a fan of record companies (yet he’s also previously said he would never self-release records) so this isn’t exactly shocking news. There are the “It’s a cruel, nasty, vicious world” laments, again standard Morrissey fare, and there are a batch of songs that really aren’t all that engaging, save for a couple of notable exceptions. Scandanavia’s pounding drums make it shine while the piano onTrouble Loves Me, played under soft blue lighting is a special moment.

After the generally low-key, uninteresting air of the whole affair, the audience was stunned to attention by the gory, horrific video of animals being slaughtered that accompanied Meat Is Murder. It made for extremely uncomfortable viewing and there were audience members visibly shocked and even shedding tears at what was being presented to them on screen.

Perhaps that was the plan all along. A piece of performance art, lulling the audience into a state of boredom so that the shocking message you want to get across has maximum impact.

Or perhaps we’re giving Morrissey more credit than he deserves for a below par performance.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 1 December 2014

The Specials at The Olympia Theatre – Review

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“You look amazing and some have you even made an effort,” is Terry Hall’s deadpan greeting to a very enthusiastic Dublin crowd after Ghost Town had opened proceedings in The Olympia with it’s quirky sci-fi licks being traded between brass and string sections. The delirious crowd didn’t seem to pick up on his sarcastic tone though. They were just intent on dancing in the aisles to some of ska’s finest tunes and dance they did, moshing up the front in a manner that was maybe unbecoming of some people of that age and dancing in the aisles of the balconies. But hey, what harm. These people were out to enjoy themselves on a cold Monday night and what better way to do that than to The Specials’ back catalogue?

Hall does come across as a bit of a jaded, grumpy old man but some of his one liners tonight are quite entertaining and add a nice counter-balance to guitarist Lynval Golding’s more frantic stage manner. It’s left to these two to lead proceedings these days, with Neville Staple having once again departed the group. While Staple’s toasting is missed, the band still deliver a solid set that goes down well with the sold out crowd. Also missing is lead guitarist Roddy Radiation, with his place being taken by Steve Craddock from Ocean Colour Scene. An unusual choice maybe but Craddock acquits himself well and adds something interesting to the band’s sound, notably with a roaring flange-assisted solo on Concrete Jungle and some rock-god riffery under the spotlight during Rat Race, a song so good that even Terry seemed to enjoy it. Lynval also seems quite enamoured with Craddock, repeatedly telling the crowd how happy he is to be playing with him and dubbing him ‘Sir Steve’. Craddock edges ever further back from the front of the stage during these tributes looking embarrassed, knowing that he’s the one that should be indulging in the Wayne’s World style ‘we’re not worthies’ rather than the other way round.

Concrete Jungle comes after knockout one-two of Gangsters, featuring John Bradbury’s glorious rolling drum licks, and a rabble rousing Monkey Man. With a back catalogue of such quality and a room full of hardcore dedicated fans, this gig couldn’t really fail. All the big guns are brought out over the course of the evening. Nightclub showcases Horace Panter’s slap bass skills and Hall jokingly throws in a bit of Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? at the end. It doesn’t quite fit but it’s fun all the same.

There’s possibly more subversive humour on show before Pearl’s Cafe. ‘Water, you can’t live without it,” declares Hall before launching into a song that includes the refrain ‘It’s all a load of bollocks’. Does Terry have his finger on the pulse of the Irish Water debacle or is it just a happy coincidence? We prefer to believe the former even if it is probably the latter.

The main set is closed with the mass singalong of A Message To You Rudy and Too Much Too Young before the band leave the stage and a football style chant of ‘Specials, Specials’ brings the band back out for Lynval to the Mariachi mayhem of Guns of Navarone, a song that Terry tells the crowd he loves when he reemerges because, “It gives me the chance to masturbate backstage.”

Alright Terry steady on. It was a good gig; but orgasmic? That’s maybe taking things a bit far.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 5 November 2014

Strand of Oaks at Whelan’s – Review

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It’s fair to say that Timothy Showalter doesn’t look like your average singer-songwriter. Arriving on stage dressed all in black with long hair, beard and tattoos on show, Showalter looks like a lost member of Metallica. To top off the metal look, he was sipping a large glass of whiskey although this was purely medicinal. In spite of a strep throat and a 140 degree temperature, Showalter and his cohorts delivered a masterful set that drew heavily on his latest album, the astonishing ‘Heal’.

Kicking things off with ‘Satellite Moon’, it was immediately apparent that keys would be to the fore during this set, with Eliza Hardy Jones delivering some dreamy licks all evening. This contrasted nicely with Showalter’s guitar playing, some of which was reminiscent of Dave Gilmour at his finest. He seemed genuinely pleased to be playing in Ireland for the first time in 10 years and his between-song banter was highly entertaining – at one stage even wondering aloud whether he was hallucinating due to his high temperature.

Not that he let his illness get in the way of delivering a feverish performance that was full of highlights. The rousing intro of ‘Goshen 97′ was the first song to get the crowd really moving and featured some stunning harmonies from Showalter and Hardy Jones. It was followed by a rousing call to arms of “This is a fucking Friday, this what I was waiting for,” from Showalter before the band launched into the pounding, tribal bass and drums of ‘For Me’ that went down a storm with the Whelan’s punters.

‘JM’ was another stand out track that featured screeching solos in an epic, extended coda before things were quietened down a bit with Showalter performing ‘Sister Evangeline’ on his own, growling out the lyrics in spite of that strep throat. ‘Woke Up to the Light’ also received the stripped down treatment before the rest of the band reemerged towards the end of the song to bring it to a rousing climax. At this stage the crowd were completely entranced and it was a love that went both ways, with Showalter declaring that he wanted to “rent a big bus and take every single one of you.” As nice as that sounds, it may prove to be a bit costly!

What a shame though, as there were many in the crowd who would love to join the tour and travel with Showalter. He comes across as a funny and pleasant guy, in spite of the violent treatment he doled out to his guitar during the encore song ‘Mirage’. That was just all part of the intense performance though and he was happy to come straight off the stage, mingle with fans and pose for photos. He was still there hours later, dancing on the dance floor and chatting away to people. That whiskey must have really done the trick.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 5 October 2014

Sargent House show at Button Factory feat. ASIWYFA, Mylets & more – Review

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The Premier League swung back in to action recently. For some fans this is a time when they can dream that their side will be holding aloft that slightly weird looking trophy come May. Fans of most teams though will be looking at the squads of the top four and wishing their side had that much talent at their disposal. On the evidence presented in the Button Factory of what the US label, Sargent House, currently have at their disposal, there could be a few rival labels feeling a bit like Burnley to Sargent House’s Chelsea or Man City.

Tortured football analogies aside, it was a pleasure to see such a host of great acts in Dublin and the diversity of the acts was very pleasing, with acts from both sides of the Atlantic on show.  Although And So I Watch You From Afar were ostensibly the headliners, all acts were given equal time to showcase their wares and all were very impressive.

First up was Dublin’s No Spill Blood, a band that really went down well with the home crowd (oops! More football analogies). No Spill Blood are a really interesting prospect. Mixing ethereal synth lines with some downright dirty bass lines and throaty metal style vocals doesn’t sound like a recipe for success but No Spill Blood make it work, with the bass at times reminiscent of current flavour of the month Royal Blood – maybe they’re blood brothers (sorry, couldn’t resist that terrible joke)?

With No Spill Blood suitably revving up the crowd, next up came Henry Kohen, better known as Mylets. Possibly the best act of the night, Mylets was amazing. His guitar playing was of the highest quality, augmented by drum machines, loop pedals and various other effects, Mylets weaved an impressive aural tapestry. It’s a shame that the set was interrupted by technical issues as, with Kohen blaming himself for not checking his European power supplies. This interrupted the flow a little bit but Mylets got things back on track and ended with a flourish.

Emma Ruth Rundle has been involved with several bands including Nocturnes and Marriages. This year saw the release of her first solo record, Some Heavy Ocean. Taking to the stage in the Button Factory, she ran through a number of tracks, switching between acoustic and electric guitars. It was testament to Rundle’s talent that during those quieter, acoustic moments barely a breath could be heard from the crowd, while things got even more interesting when she donned the electric guitar for some livelier tunes that had just the merest whiff of PJ Harvey about them.

US trio Tera Melos were another highlight of the evening. At times harking back to American college rock, at other times almost veering in to drum and bass, Tera Melos clearly refuse to be tied down by such silly notions as genre. The vocal interplay between bass player Nathan Latona and guitarist Nick Reinhart was especially interesting. It was difficult to tell which of the vocals was the lead vocal, with Latona’s baritone blending seamlessly with Reinhart’s higher register. Reinhart also delivered some searingly off kilter riffs while John Clardy was a powerhouse on drums.

Arriving on stage to little fanfare and not saying a word all set, Russian Circles still managed to blow the roof off the place. Their brand of dark, brooding instrumental post rock transmits such deep emotion, it’s impossible not to be moved by the power of the band. Cloaked in darkness for most of the set, the band really know how to work a room and their arrangements are brilliant, dropping instruments out to ramp up the tension and bringing them back in at the perfect moment. An exceptional performance all round.

And so it fell to And So I Watch You From Afar to close proceedings. With so much goodness having gone before them, and being down a regular member with bassist Johnny Adger’s not present as his wife was due to give birth, it’s possible that this may have ended up as one of the less memorable ASIWYFA gigs. Lots of things are theoretically possible though. In practice ASIWYFA were as brilliant as they always were. With Ewen Friars from Axis of boldly stepping up to the plate for the night, the band delivered a typical high energy set, buzzing off each other as they usually do – perhaps even more so with the temporary addition Friars energizing the rest of the group due to the novelty of it. Johnny wasn’t forgotten though and tribute was paid to him at several points during a set that had the crowd clapping and singing along while the substitute delivered an excellent performance. Christ, more football analogies.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 30 August 2014

Johnny Marr at Leopardstown, Dublin – Review

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He’s so good. He’s just so damned good it’s sickening! Not content with being one of the greatest practitioners of the guitar arts that the world has ever seen, Johnny Marr has effortlessly made the transition to incredibly talented and engaging frontman without any drop in the quality of his playing. It’s enough to make those of us who can barely sing and strum Wonderwall at the same time want to chop up our cheap acoustic guitars and use them as kindling. Oh and just to top it off, he looks effortlessly cool too.

Arriving on to the Leopardstown stage in a pink shirt, jacket and black skinny jeans, Marr looked dapper and considerably younger than his 50 years (quite the endorsement of the teetotal, vegan lifestyle that he leads). What followed was a career retrospective and a glimpse in to the future as Johnny played a nice variety of recent solo material and songs from his glittering musical past.

It was noticeable that the crowd responded just as favourably to material from 2012′s The Messanger as they did to the plethora of Smiths songs that dotted the set. The opener Upstarts was as well received as Panic that followed it and this set the tone for the evening, with Marr in great form throughout the night as he prowled the stage, effortlessly bashing out those familiar riffs that only he can properly produce. On the likes of the “old folk song from Manchester,” Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before he even managed to reproduce some Morrissey-style growls.

The dreamy, languid riffs of The Messanger gave way to extended solos in the middle of the song while New Town Velocity is a beautiful song that recalls youthful hopes and dreams and sounds incredible when played live. Elsewhere, the spiky Generate! Generate! is full of meandering riffs that explode in to life and there was a sneak peak of what’s to come on the new album Playland, with Marr playing two tracks from that album.

Easy Money, a title that Marr wryly quips at the end of the song may have “Jay-Z shitting himself,” has a fairly simple melody that drifts over some impressive guitar and keyboard licks, while Candidate is built on some spooky, 60′s style guitar lines. While neither differ too much sonically from what was on offer from the last album, both are fine tunes and bode well for Playland’s release in October.

Although he’s a restless musical soul who always seems to be looking to the next new project, it’s refreshing that Marr doesn’t shy away from his past and is happy to play the songs that initially brought him fame. The crowd went wild as he hammered out those shredded chords in the middle of Bigmouth Strikes Again and enthusiastically clapped along during the extended intro that heralded what was perhaps a surprising highlight of the show, Electronic’s Getting Away With It. With Marr banging out the original synth lines on the fretboard before wandering down towards the crowd and knocking out what seemed to be some incredible, improvised lines, it was a masterclass and a pleasure to behold.

After some shout outs to his relatives from Kildare, Johnny dedicated the closing song of the main set to all of those in attendance on the night. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out is a beautiful song and Marr does a fine job of singing it while working the crowd brilliantly, with the musical backing going silent, letting the crowd sing the refrain back at the stage, before the band kicked back in and finished with a flourish.

The crowd were still singing that refrain when Marr emerged for an encore that he kicked off with just him and his gently strummed guitar as the band slowly returned to help him out on Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want. Of all of the Smiths songs on show tonight, this one was the one that probably suited Marr’s voice the best and it made for a fine rendition.

A rousing version of Lockdown was followed by Marr roaring the word ‘adrenaline’ over and over again before kicking in to a blistering version of I Fought The Law, throwing shapes all over the stage while he perfectly reproduced those famous licks.

It was fitting that the night ended with what is maybe Marr’s most famous guitar line – the other-worldlyHow Soon Is Now. Many have tried to reproduce the sound of this record but only the Master can pull it off, while every member of the crowd sung the words back with arms aloft as Marr tuned and detuned his strings, producing some warped, cosmic sounds before holding his guitar above his head at the end as a final salute to the adoring crowd.

And then he was off, probably to write a novel that will usurp Ulysses and invent a car engine that runs on rainwater. The talented bastard.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 7 August 2014

Peter Hook & The Light at Leopardstown

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Peter Hook has stated that his mission with his band The Light is to play every song that he has ever recorded with Joy Division, New Order, Monaco and various other side projects that he’s been involved in over the years. This has seen him move on to playing New Order’s early albums over the past year or so with The Light. But with the band currently between New Order album sets at the moment, the crowd at Leopardstown were treated to a set made up entirely of Joy Division songs on Thursday evening.

Looking in remarkably good shape for a man approaching 60, Hooky arrived on stage with his red bass slung low in his trademark fashion, informing the crowd that he had just won €2 on the horses. This was the last thing he would say to the crowd for a while as the unmistakable cascading drums of Atmosphere opened proceedings.

The rolling toms and wailing guitar of Atrocity Exhibition were up next as The Light eased themselves in to a set that they seemed to enjoy as they found their groove, with Hooky indulging in some leg kicks during a punky version of No Love Lost. That punky aesthetic continued on Leaders of Men with Hook spitting out the lyrics in a vitriolic manner that offered a different perspective on the song to the original version that featured the iconic Ian Curtis on vocals.

While Hooky is no Ian Curtis vocally, he manages to stamp his own personality on the songs and it’s still a joy to hear these legendary tunes played by one of the original members of the band. He’s ably supported on the night by The Light who feature his son Jack Bates on bass (Hooky does join in on bass when he’s not singing) and most notably his former partner in Monaco Dave Potts, whose guitar playing is a joy to witness all night.

The gig kicked up a notch with a raucous version of Digital, that is sped up and sounds closer to the way Joy Division played it live rather than the recorded version. It got a number of people at the front pogoing and received the biggest cheer of the night so far at its conclusion.

That response seemed to spur on the band with Hooky declaring “I’m ready boys” before unleashing a primal roar to introduce a blistering version of Disorder, which featured some superb buzz saw guitar riffs from Potts. His guitar playing was also to the fore during a storming rendition of She’s Lost Control, with his grinding overdriven chords trading licks with that glorious chorus pedal bass riff while Hooky delivered the lines with a snarl, in contrast to the declamatory style that Curtis favoured on the recorded version.

There was a poignant moment towards the end of the set with Hook paying tribute to Annick Honoré, the former girlfriend of Ian Curtis, whose funeral had taken place earlier that day. “Good bless you Annick. I hope you find the answer to your questions,” said Hook before playing 24 Hours, a song that he informs the crowd was Honoré’s favourite Joy Division song. This is followed, quite appropriately, with Ian Curtis’s favourite song, These Days, before the main set was closed out with a pounding version of Shadowplay.

The band weren’t off stage for long before they reemerged for a three song encore that kicked off with a delirious version of Ceremony that had the crowds bouncing, before being followed up with an equally rousing Transmission. There was only one song that was going to end the night of course and the whole crowd gleefully sang along to every word of Love Will Tear Us Apart, dedicated “to all the ladies in the audience.”

Peter Hook has had his troubles in the past; he’s had his struggles with alcohol and his relationship with his former bandmates in New Order is fraught to say the least but he seems to be in a good place now. Happy in his own skin and clearly loving touring the world, playing the iconic songs that he was such a big part of creating, it’s great to see him in such good form. He even took the time after the gig to come to the back of the stage to chat to fans and pose for photos. He seems like a genuinely nice guy and it’s great to see a nice guy enjoying himself and doing what he loves.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 12 July 2014

Eels at The Olympia Theatre – Review

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There are some gigs that just have an intangible, magical quality from the moment the band strikes the first note. This gig from Eels was one of those shows, with Mark Oliver Everett, better known by the shortened moniker E, in cracking form from the moment he kicked things off with a plaintive version of When You Wish Upon A Star.

It wasn’t the last quirky cover that would pop up during the evening as E took the crowd on a journey through his extensive back catalogue, ably backed by the current incarnation of Eels; P-Boo on trumpet, Knuckles on percussion, Al on double bass and The Chet on guitar, who was the subject of much adoration from certain members of the crowd.

Early on E warned the all seated crowd that they were in for some “uneasy listening” and the first half of the show was dominated by some more sombre tunes such as The Morning, Parallels and Mansions of Los Feliz, that contrasted sharply with E’s jocular stage manner. This particular portion of the set culminated with what E described as a “next level bummer”, a beautiful rendition of It’s A Motherfucker that featured some sparse piano and gentle orchestration from the rest of the band.

This song seemed to especially affect E and he paused and rubbed his eyes at the conclusion before deciding that he’d had enough of the sad stuff and declaring to the rest of the band, “I wanna have some fun fellas.” This led to a jaunty version of A Daisy Through The Concrete that featured trumpet and guitar trading solos to huge cheers from the crowd.

The fun kept coming with a hilarious interlude to introduce the band followed by a stonking 50′s rock ‘n’ roll version of I Like Birds and a sped up version of My Beloved Monster, complete with tripped out solos that went down a treat with a crowd, who would soon get up close with E as he left the stage and wandered through the room doling out hugs after a rousing rendition of Mistakes of My Youth.

After the extended hug-break, E returned to the stage and decided to “skip the whole encore charade and just play some more.” So play some more they did, with I Like The Way This Is Going, Blinking Lights (For You) and Last Stop: This Town before leaving the stage and indulging in the whole encore charade not once, but twice. These encores featured some more quirky covers, harking back to the opening of the show. A beautiful version of Can’t Help Falling In Love With You featured first before a bizarre but utterly brilliant version of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing ended matters on a high and brought the crowd to their feet for the last of what had been several standing ovations.

E clearly loves playing The Olympia and The Olympia clearly loves him. For a band that are renowned for a lot of their more downbeat material, this was a joyous experience.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 1 July 2014

Paul Weller at The Royal Hospital Kilmainham – Review

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There had been talk that tickets weren’t selling too well for this gig and with the crowd looking worryingly sparse during support act Tom Odell’s set, it seemed that the iconic former frontman of The Jam and The Style Council would be playing to a half full at best crowd in Kilmainham. Fortunately by the time Weller arrived on stage, looking trim and considerably younger than his 56 years, the crowd had grown substantially with the huge variation in age of those in attendance reflecting his appeal and longevity.

Those latecomers missed a decent set from Odell. Perched jerkily at a piano for most of his set and flanked by a decent if unspectacular backing band, Odell’s raspy, soulful voice is most impressive. The fact that most of the crowd chose to sit down on the grass may have prompted Odell’s remark that there were “only four people enjoying it,” but in truth most of the crowd seemed to enjoy his set without getting too swept away. ‘Another Love’ in particular was warmly received.

Weller has never been one to dwell on former glories and his set was filled with some of his more recent work. While this did cause a bit of a lull mid-set, he still managed to throw in enough crowd-pleasers, spanning his time in his former bands as well as his earlier solo work to keep the crowd happy. ‘From The Floorboards Up’ and ‘Wake Up The Nation’ were early highlights, while ‘Fast Car Slow Traffic’ featured some excellent guitar work from long time partner-in-crime Steve Craddock, who was looking very smart in his grey suit in contrast to Weller’s more casual attire.

Unfortunately a slightly plodding ‘Sea Spray’ heralded that mid-set lull as people began to drift to the bar and the renowned Weller spikiness reared his head when introducing a song from ‘Sonik Kicks’, an album that Weller sarkily remarks is obviously “not that popular in Ireland,” when it doesn’t get the reaction that he feels it deserves.

In spite of this hiccup, ‘Dragonfly’ picks proceedings up somewhat before the gloriously simple riff of ‘Peacock Suit’ really lifts the crowd from its funk. Weller seemed to be enjoying himself again at this stage, throwing some Townshend-esque shapes on his guitar before closing out the main set with The Jam’s ‘Start!’ which went down a storm.

Not that this was the end of things by a long shot. The crowd were treated to a whopping three encores that included a rousing version of ‘Changing Man’ before those headed for the exits were drawn back for the final song, a joyous rendition of ‘Town Called Malice’ with Weller banging a tambourine and looking happier than he had been earlier on in the night.

While not a perfect gig by any manner of means, Weller’s voice is still in great nick and the band he has playing with him are a solid unit. Perhaps we should all become more familiar with ‘Sonik Kicks’ to keep him happy when he visits us the next time.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 24 June 2014

Forbidden Fruit 2014 – Review

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It’s not often that the weather gods smile on Irish festivals but this year’s Forbidden Fruit proved to be a lucky exception with the site on the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Kilmainham bathed in pleasant sunshine for most of the weekend.

It’s the one element that was out of the organiser’s control but they managed to get pretty much everything else spot-on, with queues for the bars and toilets kept short and the site kept impeccably clean all weekend. Overall it was a great weekend.

We hit the festival on both days to catch some of the musical talent on show.


Saturday

The revellers sitting in the sun on the hill facing the Original Stage were treated to a superb mid-afternoon set from Vann Music.
The Dublin four-piece blended electronic and organic instruments together during an energetic set that went down well with the dedicated few who had made their way to the festival early in the day. Their cover of Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ went down a treat, as did the pounding anthem that is ‘Into The Night’. Closing things out with the one-two of recent singles ‘Tina’ and ‘Life In Real Time’, the lads went down a storm and we could probably expect to see them higher up festival bills in years to come.

Keeping things Irish, next up on the Original Stage was Lisa O’Neill. The Cavan lady has won many plaudits for her idiosyncratic style and she was a delight here. Her brand of jazzy folk is probably better suited to an indoor arena but she managed to make it work on the big outdoor stage. Her relaxed stage manner won the crowd over and she doesn’t seem to let anything phase her, not even a guy prancing around in a bra who she gently ribbed without being too cruel towards his unusual antics. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay to see her whole set for we were off to the Lighthouse Stage, tucked away in the opposite corner of the site.

It was on this stage that New Secret Weapon played a short but blistering set. So blistering and loud in fact that there were several people walking around backstage with their fingers in their ears to protect them from the noise at times. Part heavy rock, part Doors-like extended jams, New Secret Weapon are a ferocious live prospect. At one stage they even managed to knock over some of their symbols such was the ferocity of their playing. ‘Look At The State Of It’ was a highlight as was the epic closing track of their set ‘The Ballad of Gilgamesh’. This was good old fashioned rock and roll at its best and there is much to be admired in the musicianship of all three of the band members.

Speaking of excellent musicianship, next up on the Original Stage were Northern noise merchants And So I Watch You From Afar. Trading chugging guitar chords and screeching riffery with pounding drums, the heavily tattooed and bearded purveyors of post-rock instrumental music delivered a masterclass that was lapped up by the huge crowd that had gathered to see them. Their tunes are so dynamically interesting, dropping off at the right times to let the crowd catch their breath before exploding into life again. There was even time for some gloriously excessive cowbell action during ‘S Is For Salamander’ – Christopher Walken would have been proud of their efforts.

The one major downside of every festival is that inevitably there will be tough decisions on which acts to see when they clash on the timetable with another band that you’re hoping to see. This was the case with the headliners on Saturday night but we eventually plumped with Flying Lotus and weren’t disappointed. Perched behind a massive transparent screen that covered the front of the stage, he delivered a great set that was complimented by the 3-D show that was broadcast on that massive screen. At times the -D show was a bit too much of an assault on the senses but it was impressive nonetheless and Flying Lotus’s set brought a great first day at Forbidden Fruit to a satisfying conclusion.


Sunday

The Flying Lotus show the night before set things up nicely for what was a much more dance orientated affair on Sunday. It was back to the Undergrowth Stage where Flying Lotus had played the night before to catch the joyful ball of energy that is Daithí early on in the day. Gleefully dancing around while he worked his violin assisted magic on stage, he delivered a great performance that steadily enticed more and more people in to the tent as the show went on. A likable performer who seemed delighted to be there, he’s finally set to release his first album this week and on this evidence it should be a cracker.

Staying in the Undergrowth Stage, Gold Panda was up next. He drew a huge crowd with a set that started off laid back and blissed out before getting progressively heavier as it went on. Between this and Daithí’s set before him, this was a great way to start the day and get the blood flowing in the legs with a healthy dose of dancing but there was even better to come with the next act that was to grace this stage.

The tent was completely wedged by the time Public Enemy took to the stage. The atmosphere was incredible as the crowd showed their love for the legendary band who were recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a fact that they reminded us of early in the show. Live hip-hop shows can be something of a hit and miss affair but Chuck D and Flavor Flav are masters of their craft and had the crowd eating from the palm of their hand from the start. Flavor Flav’s antics, be they slapping the bass, leaping all over the stage or venturing into the crowd during ‘Fight The Power’, are especially fun to watch. They could have easily packed out the main Original Stage but there was something special about seeing them in a more intimate setting and this was probably the gig of the weekend, with ’31 Flavors’ in particular nearly blowing the roof off the tent.

After several hours inside a tent it was a pleasant surprise to discover that the clouds of earlier in the day had given way to yet more glorious rays of sun, the perfect early evening setting for Warpaint to strut their stuff on the Original Stage. While they may have been more at home in the more indie-rock orientated line-up of the previous day, the band still managed to enchant the crowd with their ethereal harmonies. After unleashing ‘Undertow’ and ‘Love Is To Die’ early in the set, they became the second band of the weekend to perform a Bowie cover with a cracking rendition of ‘Ashes To Ashes’. They really are a quality live act and they delivered a great mix of songs from ‘The Fool’ and their recently released eponymous sophomore album.

Last but by no means least on the Original Stage were the mighty 2 Many DJ’s. The Belgian duo drew a huge crowd, that spread all the way back up the hill, and delivered a knock out hour and a half set that seemed to go by a whole lot quicker. The ecstatic crowd responded with the enthusiasm that the Soulwax men deserved and it was the perfect ending to what had been a fantastic and diverse weekend of music.

This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 3 June 2014