The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Gig Reviews

10

That Petrol Emotion (live in Spirit Store, Dundalk)

Review Snapshot:  After a fourteen year break, the temporarily reformed That Petrol Emotion, in front of a capacity audience of one hundred and ten, show that they can still suck diesel.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
I've been feeling old and I don't really like it. First off, about a month ago, the nice man on Phantom FM played The Smiths' That Petrol Emotion"William It Was Really Nothing" and then, in a cheery voice that lacked even the merest hint of the necessary gravitas, announced that it first saw the light of day twenty four years ago that very week. I nearly crashed the blummin' car into the wife's planters. Twenty four years!? Are you sure it wasn't only yesterday? And Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now.

Then came the news that, after a fourteen year break, the marvellous That Petrol Emotion were to reform. I remember them first time round too. Those sweaty nights in The New Inn and The Tivoli and The Olympic Ballroom, jumping around like a loon, a selection of my mammy's jumpers tied around my waist, sweating buckets and not a care in the world. Despite the fact that my jumping around like a loon days ended on or about the day that I realised that I could no longer touch my knees, this was one reunion that was not to be missed.

As soon as the band emerge from the Spirit Store's broom cupboard of a dressing room, it's immediately clear that singer Steve Mack has entered into some kind of Faustian pact which promises old Lucifer god knows what, blowjobs and scratchcards probably, if my crumbling body can be persuaded to do all the aging on his behalf. Not for him the middle aged frustrations of finding clothes that look great on the hanger but won't go over your stomach - Mack is as lean as he appears in the images I can just about dredge up from my sepia tinged memory banks. He needs to be, given the ferocity of what follows.

A frequently cited reason for The Petrols' failure to achieve a chart position higher than about a hundred and twelve is that old chestnut – "They were ahead of their time". I never paid much heed to that one back in the day but listening to them now, as the drums shake the room and guitars shred wallpaper and worry the rogue Christmas decorations that still hang from the ceiling in August, I have to concede that there may be something in that. These songs sound as fresh and as vital as they did on the day they were conceived.

And so, with former member and current Undertone John O'Neill looking proudly on, little brother Damien and Co hit the stage running, with a blistering, excoriating version of Chemicrazy's "Blue 2 Black". Ciaran McLaughlin's drums are almost loud enough to signal the start of the one hundred metres Olympic final on the other side of the world, while the guitars square up to one another in a rowdy embrace, like they've been placed in a barrel and pushed off a cliff. Then it's "Gnaw Mark", from the same album, which chugs along on a riffboat of guitars, with an insistent and urgent groove that injects dance potion into the asses of all present.

An early highlight is Manic Pop Thrills' "It's A Good Thing" and indeed it is, while "Big Decision", immediately afterward, has the older and wiser me, who now knows what Health and Safety means, worrying that the bouncing crowd are all going to end up in the laps of the drinkers in the pub downstairs. A few songs later, "Sensitize" reminds me of just how old I am when I turn to my mobile to play it to my wife, whose favourite Petrols' song it is, and discover, with a mixture of amusement and despair, that apart from "Home", the only other entries in my phonebook for that letter are "Health Board" and "Hernia Doc". I nearly give myself another rupture dancing to it. The tiny venue is now a sauna, especially when the closing trio of "Hey Venus", "Abandon" and "Scumsurfin'" have scorched the room, and there are more mile wide smiles than at The Rose of Tralee.

A triumph, then. And you can put in your own references to setting fire to things, flammability and how bright their flame burns here.

Michael O'Hara


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08

Cois Fharraige, Day 3 (Kilkee, Co. Clare)

Review Snapshot: The third and final day remained without highlight until Travis gave us what we wanted to hear - the hits!

The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10

TravisFull Review:   After a promising opening night, and a slightly less solid second, I feared the final night would continue the downward trend. This was not helped by the admittedly poor line-up. But, it was the unlikely Scots, Travis, who saved the night from mediocrity.

Oscar and Simon from the dad-friendly Ocean Colour Scene performed their acoustic-driven set to an early crowd. Like a hotel-lobby band, they pleased the punters with their familiar sing-a-long anthems. Oscar and Simon, however, seemed surprised to be playing to such a small crowd, but I was surprised there was even a crowd at all.

I’ll admit I was highly skeptical of the reggae addition, Natty, to the line-up, not least because of all the typical Bob Marley comparisons. But, after opening with a catchy song and singing “this is just the intro…”, he proved just that, carrying on to play a pleasant and enjoyable show. The songs of revolution and oppression went down a storm with a merry Irish crowd, and he left me feeling a little more hopeful for the rest of the line-up.

Starsailor couldn’t seem to top this, though, playing a mildly diverting set of bottom-drawer Britpop. Strangely, they opened with their hit, “Alcoholic”, which was instantly recognisable but set a pace they could not keep. Though unmemorable, the set was not unpleasant to listen to. “Four to the Floor” was notable, giving brief respite from unimaginative album-fillers. The crowd seemed to enjoy them, as they did every single act, singing along to a cover of Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” at the end. Not strong enough to be on so late in the evening, we were left looking forward to Travis.

After the ordeal that clearly was “playing the new stuff”, Travis slipped into a more comfortable mode and showed us doubters why they were headlining. They churned out all of the hits to what was regrettably the smallest crowd of the three days. No one could resist Fran Healy’s friendly chat and novel approaches to engaging the crowd. At one point, he encouraged everyone to goad on their Swedish keyboardist for his solo by shouting his name – “Claes! Claes!”. For their inevitable encore, the band huddled around one microphone performing “Flowers in the Window”. After taking up their instruments once more, they closed with “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?”, sending the crowd into a singing frenzy and ending the festival on a high note.

Barring the likes of The Futureheads and Supergrass, the Cois Fharraige festival had very few acts to draw music fans. And, at three days, the thin line-up seemed a little strained. It has a long way to go to compete with the likes of Electric Picnic, but if you’re looking for a weekend on the lash, this is the festival for you!

Christine Cooke

  • Check out the CLUAS reviews of Day 1 and Day 2 of Cois Fharraige 2008.

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06

Cois Fharraige, Day 2 (Kilkee, Co. Clare)

Review Snapshot: Improved weather but fewer highlights.

The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10

Full Review:
Supergrass live at Cois Fharraige 2008Having waited two hours from the original gate time yesterday before seeing a band, today we decided to soak up the sun and atmosphere prior to the gig. However, on arriving 50 minutes after gates opening, we found that the second act had just begun their set. The inconsistent start times meant we had missed an anticipated gig by UK band 28 Costumes.

So, the first act of our day became The Broken Family Band. Playing to a handful of people in a near-empty marquee, their lively set may have gone down better in front of a larger audience later in the night. They managed to win over the minor crowd, not with their music, but with chocolates they cast from the stage, claiming they belonged to Travis.

The trad-jam session that was Kila drew the crowds in from the sunshine and treated them to a string of indistinguishable songs. This was punctuated only by brief banter and annoying, gratuitous bongo solos. Nevertheless, their live shows enjoy a baffling popularity with the Irish public, and this was no exception.

Seasick Steve riled up the crowd initially with his novel country-flavoured act, but the novelty soon wore off, and after an hour the whole thing felt a bit over-stretched. The stop/ start pace and generic blues sound did little for an act that was, essentially, warming up for Supergrass. While he wasn’t bad, this weathered character, drinking Jack Daniels straight from the bottle and sporting a grey beard and denim overalls, seemed a little out of place, and a slightly mis-judged attempt at being hip by the organisers.

Despite a series of successful hits to choose from, headliners Supergrass launched into the beginning of their set drawing mainly from their latest album “Diamond Hoo Ha”. Although enjoyable, the tracks by no means match the instant catchiness of early singles “Alright” and “Caught by the Fuzz”, and an unfamiliar two-song encore proved the point.

The best time of all, however, was had by the staff. The on-stage camera-men enjoyed picking out fans and security staff from the crowd to be displayed on the giant screens, turning the cameras on themselves at one point. The video editor had a great time utilising cheesy effects throughout the night, and one of the members of security even managed to perform a rudimentary jig on stage with Kila!

Although the weather improved, this second day did little to outshine the first, in musical terms, at least.

Christine Cooke

  • Check out the CLUAS reviews of Day 1 and Day 3 of Cois Fharraige 2008.

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05

Artist (live in Venue Name, City)

Review Snapshot: An excellent start to the Kilkee festival, with an outstanding performance by the Futureheads.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:
Cois Fharraige 2008“Who gives a f**k about the rain? It's a deadly festival!” So remarked Danny O'Reilly, lead singer of The Coronas on this, the first (and hopefully wettest) day of the Cois Fharraige music festival in Kilkee.

First up were Galway band The Kanyu Tree, performing their first live show as a four-piece. Their unoffensive pop rock was well-received by the gathering crowds, but their music and manner fails to establish them as anything more than a support band.

Next up were The Coronas, hailing from Dublin, but equally at home on the soundtrack of an American teen drama series. Their sound was rockier and their presence more charming than The Kanyu Tree, and it's not surprising that they've built up such a loyal fanbase in Ireland. Radio-friendly songs such as “Grace, Don't Wait” went down well with the ever-increasing crowd. After witnessing a mass chorale to their big hit, “San Diego Song”, you can believe them when they claim never to get sick of playing it live.

After a lengthy gap, The Futureheads kicked off their energetic set with their new single, “Walking Backwards”. It was the first in a series of lively numbers that showcased their enjoyable brand of power-pop rock. The beginning of their set seemed to fall on deaf ears. Many people didn't even appear to know who they were, turning their backs and consuming their beer. But, with their interactive banter and intense likeability, The Futureheads won over this distracted crowd. And, by the time they launched into “The Beginning of the Twist”, everybody seemed to to have caught on. This was followed by two more crowd-pleasing songs; their popular Kate Bush cover, “Hounds of Love”, and the last track from their debut album, “Man Ray”. Their songs transfer well to a live setting and are executed with such confidence and gusto that even the most distracted viewer can't but love them.

Following this class act, were questionable headliners, The Zutons. Their gimmickery (a giant neon “Z” against a scenic backdrop, superfluous female saxophone player) only highlighted their shortcomings as serious song-writing talents. The set list included all of their hits. Their most popular song was undoubtedly “Valerie”, which they decidedly played mid-set. A strange choice, considering they themselves remarked afterward “That was our biggest song.” This meant an unfortunate early peak for The Zutons, who paled in comparison to The Futureheads.

Despite the torrential weather, this was a promising start to the last festival of the summer.

Christine Cooke

  • Check out the CLUAS reviews of Day 2 and Day 3 of Cois Fharraige 2008.

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01

Electric Picnic Day Three (live in Stradbally, Co. Laois)

Electric Picnic 2008

Review Snapshot: In terms of giving Electric Picnic Sunday a mark out of ten overall, I went with a 9….but the festival itself was more than the sum of its parts and as tents got packed away until next year and showers of a near transcendental nature were taken it’s fair to say that Electric Picnic 2008 ranks among the best. 

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:Day three of Electric Picnic began with a rude awakening of sorts, namely 130dBs or so of My Bloody Valentine’s sound check causing much of the Charlie Chaplin campsite (located directly behind the Electric Arena) to shoot bolt upright, from sleep to wake in a time Usain Bolt would be proud of! Still, it was a handy reminder not to forget the earplugs for later in the day.

Feeling every so slightly delicate following the previous evening’s excesses, a seat in the sun with some soul was just what the doctor ordered. Candi Staton was the perfect act for Sunday afternoon on the Main Stage as a sizeable crowd of ramshackle revellers lounged around on the lawn, finding themselves reinvigorated by her incredible warmth, personality and honeyed vocals. ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ brought the crowd to their feet and the good vibes just kept on coming. An extended version of ‘You Got the Love’ was a triumphant end to the set, as every word was belted out across the Main Stage.

Given that the sky above Stradbally was blue as opposed to several shades of grey for the first time in weeks, it seemed a shame to descend into the darkness of yet another marquee and so it was time for some general lolling about in a bid to soak up a selection of what else was on offer at this year’s picnic. Wall of Death at the circus had stomachs churning vicariously, Djembe lessons in the Irish Aid section of the Global Green proved just who was drumming to the rhythm of a different beat while Karl Spain had us running for the exits with his woefully underwhelming stand up which was fortuitous as it led us straight into the Electric Arena and CSS.

Lovefoxx was resplendent in her customary jumpsuit as she bounced and hopped across the stage. This band of Brazilian beatsters were as energetic as ever as they knocked out hit after hit culminating in a closing couplet of ‘Lets Make Love’ and ‘Alala’. Strangely the crowd were more subdued in their appreciation – no doubt festival fatigue was to blame!

Next up was Grinderman.”My face is finished, my body's gone and I can't help but think standin' up here in all this applause and gazin' down at all the young and the beautiful with their questioning eyes that I must above all things love myself”….hearing Nick Cave deliver these lines in a snarly, sinister and dirty version of ‘No More Pussy Blues’ is just confirmation, if it were needed, that the man is one cool bastard. Together these Bad Seed offshoots give the crowd a monumental kick up the arse, Warren Ellis in particular rips his bow through distorted paeans to angry, ageing rock gods. Other highlights included ‘Honey Bee Let’s Fly to Mars’ and ‘I Don’t Need You (To Set Me Free)’.

As the crowd cheered Grinderman from the stage a palpable air of anticipation descended on the Electric Arena. The last band to grace its’ stage this year was without doubt the most eagerly anticipated and as a wall of amps were wheeled on, hundreds of hands reached into hundreds of pockets fumbling for earplugs.

My Bloody Valentine was without doubt the gig of the weekend and possibly the year. ‘I Only Said’ proved the perfect opener and from there it was just sonic bliss throughout. Although there was no new material there was ample representation from both ‘Loveless’ and ‘Isn’t Anything’ LPs and the ‘Tremolo’ and ‘You Made Me Realise’ EPs.

Swirling soundscapes were complimented by one of the better lighting designs of the festival and some mesmeric visuals projected onto the stage backdrop. The crowd were near reverential for large portions of the set not moving beyond an appreciative sway during songs, but tracks such as ‘Soon’ gave rise to much more animated dancing. As for noise levels, let’s just say no internal organs were dislodged but it did get pretty intense during the ‘holocaust’ section of closing track ‘You Made Me Realise’. There was little or no banter aside from a cursory ‘How’s it goin? Thanks for comin’ but yet as the audience erupted in applause, you could tell there was an air of satisfaction in a job well done, particularly among Kevin Shields and Colm Ó Cíosóig.

Although there were notions of catching some of The Sex Pistols and Conor Oberst, there was little point, seeing another band after that would have simply been an exercise in going through the motions.

Jan Ní Fhlanagáin

  • Check out as well CLUAS.com's reviews of Day 1 and Day 2 of Electric Picnic 2008.

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31

Electric Picnic, Day Two (Stradbally, Co. Laois)

Review Snapshot: Good weather, good friends and good music all mix together to create almost the perfect festival Saturday.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
Elbow live, Electric PicnicAs 2007 drew to a close, Cathy Davey’s second album ‘Tales of Silversleeve’ was opening doors and cementing her reputation as one of Ireland’s most talented emerging songwriters. Given that her songs have been played off the radio, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect a good crowd for her mid-afternoon slot in the Crawdaddy tent, but having to close it before she even took to the stage must surely have been beyond her wildest expectations – even Guy Garvey and the rest of Elbow couldn’t wangle their way in. ‘The Collector’ and ‘Reuben’ opened the set and got the crowd dancing straight away. On occasion Davey’s aspirate vocal can get lost in a live setting but not today, she was note perfect and the mix was spot on. The set lagged a little in the middle as new material, book-ended by less popular album tracks, left some audience members eyeing up the exits. The opening beats of ‘Moving’ put paid to that though and the crowd were well and truly back on side. A clearly delighted Davey ended proceedings with the spine tingling ‘Sing for your Supper’ and every soul in the house sang along.

The Little Big Tent played host to a decidedly ebullient Ra Ra Riot who treated the modest, but wholly committed crowd, to a sufficiently pop filled forty minutes of material from their forthcoming debut ‘The Rhumb Line’. They were a long way from home in Syracuse, NY but seemed enamoured with their inaugural trip to Ireland and pledged a return later this year.

A hop, skip and jump over to a packed Electric Arena had us arrive just in time for the tail end of The Breeders set. ‘Cannonball’ followed by a cover of The Beatles ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, performed with Kim Deal’s customary wit, drew rapturous applause from the massive crowd.

Next up in the Electric Arena were the ever affable Elbow. The band took to the stage trumpets in hand and opened with a rousing rendition of ‘Starlings’ followed by ‘The Bones of You’ and ‘Mirrorball’ off their most recent album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’. Guy Garvey’s smoke and whiskey voice soared as he turned himself, and the audience, inside out during both ‘Leaders of the Free World’ and ‘Grounds for Divorce’. Mancunian wit and everyman charm proved the order of the day as we were treated to tracks from across their impressive back catalogue, ‘Newborn’ and ‘Grace Under Pressure’ proving the most beguiling. The euphoric ‘One Day Like This’ was as cathartic as it was electric, with every voice in the place wrapped around the life affirming, smile inducing lyric. In a move reminiscent of their recent Vicar St gig, Mr. Garvey joined the great unwashed down the front where, hoist on a wave of good feeling, he led the crowd through the closing bars, gladdening hearts as he went.

Next it was back to the Little Big Tent where Dan Deacon was holding court and choreographing audience members into what seemed like the human embodiment of organised chaos. Performing from within the crowd for the duration of the set and bedecked in neon, he tore it up from the start, inciting near riotous levels of crowd interaction. There were human gauntlets, frenzied chasing and the instruction for ‘Silence like the Wind’ was to “dance like we’re in Jurassic Park, and hippy the shit out of it”. For sheer levels of mania, hilarity and shit hot beats, this set will be hard to beat over the course of the festival.

A passing glance at Grace Jones confirmed a number of things, 1. she’s mad as a box of frogs and 2. she’s in the kind of shape most nubile 20 something’s would be envious of. With a set drawing largely from her 1981 release ‘Nightclubbing’ she wowed the audience with her many costume changes and near yogic dance moves. A once off in every way.

A short stint with Underworld, essentially comprising of a brief exercise in glow stick cheerleading, was all we could stand before tripping over to the Crawdaddy Tent for a brief dalliance with Stuart Staples and the Tindersticks. Perfectly pitched and utterly decadent though they were, there was a tangible danger that we would end up written off for the night were we to stay in the red wine haze of such sonic treats as ‘Can Our Love…’.

Ferris Wheels, Carousels, Donal Dineen in Body and Soul and an epic 90 minutes of unadulterated fun in the Silent Disco saw the clock strike 4 and nightcaps under the shelter of a gazebo with friends old and new brought us to 6am when the sun came up and heads finally hit the hay.

Jan Ní Fhlanagáin

  • Check out as well CLUAS.com's reviews of Day 1 and Day 3 of Electric Picnic 2008.

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30

Electric Picnic, Day 1 (Stradbally, Co. Laois)

Review Snapshot:  A long yet rewarding first day of Electric Picnic highlighted the huge differences between the Irish new and old guards and everything from pies, ticker tape and Icelandic orchestral manoeuvers in the dark in between.

The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10

Full Review:
After an early start, repeated to-ing and fro-ing from car to campsite and prolonged tent pitching – it seems the term ‘four man tent’ refers to how many people it takes to erect the tent as opposed to how many people fit in it – Electric Picnic, day one, kicked off with an invitation to a mass orgy at the main stage from Ronan Ó Snodaigh of Kíla, “We’ve got 50 minutes to make love to you” and with that we were off.

Despite a relatively early slot at 4.30pm, Kíla pulled a large crowd and set about getting the party started. There were Brazilian carnival dancers, Cirque de Soleil type aerial acrobatics and a gospel choir, not to mention explosions of ticker tape! With its philosophy of living life to the full as your own self completely, ‘Leanfaidh Mé’, from their sophomore album ‘Tóg go Bog É’, proved a statement of intent for the weekend. From there it was straight into ‘Four Skinhead Reels’ and free-form ceilí dancing ensued as far as the eye could see. This was the perfect start to the picnic. Kíla’s inimitable energy and sheer force of being would leave no toe untapped and no heart unmoved.

Feeling sufficiently festive it was time for man of the moment Richie Egan and Jape. Two years ago he drew a modest crowd early in the day on a small stage curated by Damien Rice. This time around the Crawdaddy stage was packed to bursting with a swell of sweaty and swarthy revellers, a clear testament to the popularity of songs like ‘I Was A Man’, ‘Streetwise’ and ‘Floating’, all of which were met with frenzied applause, whopping and general limb flailing. Most encouraging of all was the airing of some new material in front of a festival crowd - a sure sign of an artist brimming with confidence. The set list was largely drawn from the brilliant ‘Ritual’ – a shoe-in for several album of the year accolades come December - and despite one or two technical hiccups, Mr. Egan had the crowd eating out of his hand from beginning to end. Highlights included an extended sample of ‘Put ‘em under Pressure’ tagged onto the end of ‘Streetwise’ and a rousing rendition of ‘Phil Lynott’.

Next up in the Crawdaddy tent was Christy Moore, but ten minutes was all this reviewer could stand. In much the same way as annoying backpacker types ‘DO’ Thailand/Cambodia/Chile/Argentina, the vast majority of people seemed to have come along just to tick Christy Moore off their ‘list of legends to see before they, or I, die’. Incessant chat, hustle and bustle proved too irritating to stand. More recent material was met with indifference and old favourites such as ‘City of Chicago’ and ‘North and South of the River’ sent the audience into sing-along overdrive to the point of drowning out the man himself.

As the light began to fade over the main stage, Allison Goldfrapp, donned in harlequin-esque garb, appeared to the strains of ‘Utopia’ from her debut album ‘Felt Mountain’. Her, at times, operatic voice was a stark reminder of just how versatile a performer she is. From there it was straight into lead single ‘A&E’ from most recent album ‘Seventh Tree’ and this set the tone for the next half hour of so. Although beautiful and expertly performed there was a danger that the whole set could descend into something much more suited to a marquee in the body and soul area. However as darkness fell and ‘Little Bird’ drew to a close, the bass was turned up and the synthesisers were unleashed. Chests thumped as crowd favourites from ‘Black Cherry’ and ‘Supernature’ came thick and fast, ratcheting up the energy levels and the complexity of the dance moves! A truly stonking ‘Strict Machine’ brought a slick, yet sublime, set to a close.

Having gorged on some of the gastronomic delights available from the likes of Pieminister and Diep Noodles, it was back to the main stage for Friday headliners Sigur Ros. Given the Icelanders predilection for album titles such as ( ) and songs named in an invented language, it’s a little difficult to give a comprehensive review of their set list!! They opened with the anthemic, ethereal and other-worldy ‘Svefn-g-Englar’ from their second album ‘Ágætis Byrjun’ which planted smiles squarely on most faces. Stars were shining brightly in the sky for stunning renditions of ‘Hoppípolla’ and ‘Glósóli’ from 2005’s ‘Takk’, pleasing the crowd no end. However, 90mins of blissed out, orchestral genius, proved a little too much to take. It was a set more suited to a marquee, post-midnight, drink in hand, bum on seat than an opening night, headline slot on the main stage. So with the strains of Amiina’s string arrangements ringing in our ears and sleep teasing our eyes, it was time to return to the welcome floatation of inflatable mattresses, where the distant thump of the dance tent rocked us to sleep.

Jan ní Fhlanagáin

  • Check out as well CLUAS.com's reviews of Day 2 and Day 3 of Electric Picnic 2008.

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14

MUSE (live in Marlay Park, Dublin)

MUSE LiveReview Snapshot:  Sometimes you find yourself so in awe of a band that there is nothing you can do except stand back, close your eyes and let a performance permeate every essence of your being.

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:
It wasn't looking good for MUSE at Marlay Park.  Monsoon like conditions over the past week would surely render conditions unsuitable for anything other than pigs and ducks.  Not so.  The first surprise of the evening was that parking was a breeze, as was gaining access to the arena.  The biggest surprise of all though was the condition of the arena.  Where were the anticipated mud baths?  No where to be seen, in fact you'd have hardly known it had rained non-stop for the past two weeks.

First up on stage were Glasvegas, the Glasgow four piece who count Michael Stipe amongst their celebrity fans.  If The Smiths were Scottish and liked dressing as the biker from The Village People, then Glasvegas would have lost their niche.  A band still finding their feet on the big stage, they just don't have the songs to keep a crowd containing everyone from drunken leaving cert students to 'accountants on tour' (Deloitte and Touche take a bow) entertained.  In the end, Glasvegas were a bit like the wasp that flew near my drink, it wasn't doing any harm, but I just wanted it to go away.

Kasabian were next up and launched straight into Empire the title track from their second album.  In fairness to Tom Meighan he tried his best to warm an ever increasing crowd up but I'm not sure if claiming to be Jesus is the way to go after just two albums.  Kasabian did exactly what I expected in playing some above standard indie rock, namely L.S.F and Shoot the Runner, and then playing the rest of their songs.  Of more interest than any of their music though is that they seem to have commandeered Roger Daltrey to play drums and Carlos Puyol on guitar!  Check it out for yourself here.  Kasabian should know by now though that this is post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, we don't sing Ole, Ole, Ole any more!

Despite me labelling them a singles band on more than one occasion I was quite excited about seeing MUSE live for the first time.  I'd heard reports of their live performances before but had no idea of the visual and audio bombardment that lay in store.  Opening with Map of the Problematique, Supermassive Blackhole and Dead Star, Bellamy and Co. had the audience firmly in their grip from the start.  Accompanied by lasers, satellite dishes and some of the best on stage camera work I've ever seen, each song becomes an almost cinematic experience in the live arena. 

Definite highlights for me were Invincible and the sing-along version of Time is Running Out, though an honourable mention must go to Feeling Good as I've never heard so many people attempt to sing falsetto before. Lets just say there were lots of canines covering their ears last night in the Marlay Park area!  Any band that want to have two encores better have some good songs to go with it and in Starlight, Plug in Baby (encore one) and Knights of Cydonia (encore two), MUSE certainly have more than enough tools with which to work a crowd. 

And with that the balloons, the lasers, the smoke machines were all gone and we encountered the only problem of the evening.  When it takes you longer to walk a kilometre to your car than it does to drive 20 kilometres home you know you have a problem.  It's a problem MCD could sort by opening more exits but is a minor complaint given how enjoyable this gig was.  Gig of the year by a long way.

Steven O'Rourke


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07

Review of Glasgowbury 2008, Draperstown, Co. Derry

Glasgowbury 2008 Well, we came, we saw, we were conquered... and sunburnt (in a nice way).

To the street with all these corporate shindigs like Oxegen et al. Glasgowbury is where it’s at and that ain’t no lie! A festival on top of the Sperrin Mountains in Co Derry, Eagles Rock to be precise, with some of the finest musical talent on the island, a festival where yet-to-be-friends help you across the camp site with your gear and help you set up whilst sharing a beer and announcing the bands they reckon are going to rock the ‘rock!

Who'd have thought of such a hair-brained scheme? Well a music legend by the name of Paddy Glasgow, not sure if anyone else could have pulled this off... the man lives music, and the promotion of it, not for money, kudos, but for the betterment of its soul.

In a nutshell...Glasgowbury 2008? It was 4 stages, 3 of which were indoor (the G-Session's, The Acoustic and The Spurs of Rock) and 1 outdoor stage ('Small but Massive Main Stage') and it all took place over one day 12 noon to 12 midnight, and a night's camping in a couple of fields (we were assured by the powers that be that no sheep were hurt in the making of this festival).

We arrived early on the Saturday morning, the campsite already alive with the sound of camping novices cursing the limited instructions the 10 quid throw-away tent they came with. A few 360 degree turns to take in the breathtaking beauty that is the Glasgowbury setting, this really is something special. A few still cold tins downed in the comfort that there were no suits, computers or Starbucks in sight, nor no pop drivel, daft Dave or broadband adverts to be heard.

Then off to explore… You know that feeling you get in your stomach when your walking into a festival, flanked on all sides by your nearest and dearest, filled with the buzz of life, the distance thud of some champion yielding his bass axe, well, if you could bottle that nervous, excited feeling, Smurfit’s bank balance wouldn’t come close. Bars, clothes stalls, stages, jugglers, stilt walkers, St John’s finest primed and ready for action (thanks for the masking tape if your reading)…time to roll.

First stop was the G-Sessions stage, and Hybrasil. Technical hiccups sorted, the guys came on stage 10 mins late and for a short and very sweet time, blew the socks off the place with a set of new tunes, not a note from the superb Monkey Pole, but none the lesser for it, exchanging guitars for drum pads, moogs, korgs and other wonderous gadgets with exact precision, live, these guys are something else.

It was all a bit weird with the merciless sun blazing, the factor 40 mixing with sweat seeping into the eyeballs as we caught a fine set from Limavady’s finest Furlo who were as tight as a tinker’s cuss.

Quick ice cream, cool pint, catch up with few people I forgot every existed - festivals are a great place to reacquaint and relight old friendships. Now where’s that Spurs of Rock stage...

Remember the 80's? Remember the Mama's Boys? Well Pat 'The Professor' McManus was in the Mama's boys, and he cant! For a while they were Ireland's rock saviours, and for one night only on a mountain in the middle of no-where, The Professor delighted us all a blistering set of, well, em, ahh, err, rock! A huge crowd assembled and left smiling, arm in arm... Result.

And so I Watched you from Afar, Ireland's answer to Explosions in the Sky played a blinding set from their highly acclaimed "This is our Machine and Nothing can Stop It”, these guys really are the shit, ending their set with, at the last count, about 40 folk on stage dancing out, bing bong. The meat in So I Watched You From Afar and Fighting With Wire were the wonderous Oppenheimer, using some kind of weird wizardry to whip the crowd into a frenzy.

Fresh from signing a big deal with Atlantic, Fighting with Wire had a right old homecoming, rocking out like the back door on a windy night with a moshpit to rival that of Triggerman’s earlier in the day. 

Ash finished off the day’s music with a storming set of their classic singles' back catalogue, everyone arm in arm jumping in unison, cows darting for the nearest wunny bush and village folk were heard bolting the window latches awaiting the impending avalanche. Ash, whilst not the greatest album band, are a fine fine festival band, with a cannon of peerless tunes. Why didn’y they play Petrol? Who knows, but they did dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s with Jack Names the Planets from the same Trailer EP ...bing bong.

With so much happening, the only downside was missing bands like SuperFreakz, Panama Kings, The Beat Poets, Ed Zealous, General Fiasco, Mantic, La Faro etc etc etc

The campsite partied and laughed 'til the wee hours and as we all packed up and trounced up the road to various trains, boats and planes, sore, but happy heads, we thanked the sheep for a loan of their home. Life really doesn’t get much better. Until next year.

Sig Doherty


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24

A review of the 2008 Open'er festival (Gdansk)

Snapshot:

  • What? Open'er Music Festival, Babie Doly Airfield, Gdynia, Poland.
  • Who? Chemical Brothers, Jay Z, Goldfrapp, Sex Pistols, Massive Attack, and some cool Polish bands!
  • Why? the cost was cheap but the lineup wasn’t.

Full Review:
Opener Rock Festival 2008 Gdansk PolandIn recent years foreign music festivals have become an alternative for the Irish music-lover unable to cough up €200+ for a ticket to EP or Oxegen. Roskilde, Benicassim, and Rock Werchter are always guaranteed to attract the big names en-route to Ireland, and then some. Aside from these majors, there is an underbelly of emerging festivals on the continent, one of which is Poland`s Heineken-endorsed Open'er festival, sprawled on a disused air-field outside the city of Gdansk on Poland's Baltic coastline - easy to get to via Ryanair & shuttle buses. Although the 5-year old festival has expanded at rapid speed by all accounts - boasting diverse recent headliners such as Beastie Boys, Bjork, Sigur Ros and The White Stripes - the price has not. €83 was the cost of a 3-day (with camping) ticket, topped off with access to a fully-stocked-with-fresh-food 24-hour shop on the campsite as well as an on-site offy (downside: it only sold Heineken, as did the bars inside the festival). Add to this relentless sunshine in the high-twenties and we're ready for the music.
 
Highlight of the weekend were the Chemical Brothers. They brought down the curtain on Sunday night with an exerting set (more details below) that caused even the surprisingly reserved Polish crowd to engage in hysterics. Earlier that evening Alison Goldfrapp pleaded with the 25,000+ present to get moving. Even a boisterous triple-play of Ooh La La, Train and Strict Machine - coupled with the sight of multi-instrumentalist Will Gregory clad in Steve Irwin gear - couldn´t stir the crowd to dance en masse. This lack of energy from what was a large crowd was apparent all weekend. Maybe I'm overlooking a concerted effort by the Polish audience to appreciate the music on display. Or maybe I've been exposed to remnants of the Féile-induced "let's damage our bodies in every way possible" Irish prototype for far too long.
 
The antithesis of this self-destructive approach was evident during Massive Attack's set on Sunday night.  Performing to a main stage crowd of over 40,000 - the majority of whom were sprawled on the grass taking in the music - it was an amazing sight to behold, a chilled out gig on such on a mass scale. Almost a decade on from the heights reached in the 90s, the Bristol trip-hoppers still deliver a stirring live show, with their touring guest vocalists giving tracks Angel, Teardrop and Unfinished Sympathy the stamp of authenticity that the crowd wanted.
 
The big-chill of Massive Attack's set was the perfect ease-in to the Chemical Brothers-enduced madness that was next on the menu. Taking to the stage following a medley of Kraftwerk tracks and a looped narration of the line "Open your mind, relax, and float downstream" from The Beatles 'In The Beginning' you just knew the most culturally in-tune act on the bill was about to rightly grasp the 1am Sunday headline slot. Hallucinations-on-demand followed as high-res visuals of FREAKY clowns/robots/kaleidoscopes provided the backdrop to the Chemical Brothers 2-hour assault of re-interpreted yet instantly familiar classics (esp. Believe), proving once again that the Chemical Brothers are the night.
 
Where the diligence and attention to detail of the Chemical Brothers set left a lasting impression, Jay Z's lack of the same did likewise. Still on a high from his much hyped success at Glastonbury the week previously, Carter hastily re-enacted live fave 99 Problems (with AC/DC 'Back In Black' guitar reference) early on but quickly resigned to carefree rapping in the company of spinmaster-of-choice Eight Track (he tours with Kanye West also). A cover of Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab' was cringeworthy (but fun) and a long way removed from the ghetto sensibilities of Jay Z's Bronx-savvy image, but he was clearly performing in a night-off-duty "let's have have a laugh" capacity. What harm.
 
Meanwhile, over on the Tent Stage, a mobbed marquee witnessed a subdued (by his standards) Johnny Rotten utter anti-establishment mumblings whilst fronting a musically sound original Sex Pistols lineup - then again the power chord punk that "revolutionized" rock music in the seventies was never going to be difficult to remaster.
 
Back to the Main Stage proceedings and without wanting to lessen the merits of Interpol & The Raconteurs, they just did not work in these environs. The Raconteurs probably went on to rock the Pet Sounds Tent at Oxegen (comments please..) whilst Interpol's main stage slot at Open'er was in broad daylight which certainly did not befit their tone.
 
Speaking of Oxegen success stories, positives may have been reported of Roisin Murphy's headline slot in the Pet Sounds Tent at same but she went above and beyond this secondary prestige at Open'er, headlining Friday night's Main Stage in a manner befitting the coolest female performer in the world right now. Her image and vibe are impossible to define but suffice to say she oozes sexual prowess on stage whilst still giving the crowd a big hug - she she spoke the lingo throughout and reminded the 40,000 present (in a noticeably Irish accent) how she's played more gigs in Poland than she has in Ireland. Her dance troop, outfit changes and ever-present and distinct voice wrapped up day one perfectly and standout tracks were obviously the hits 'You Know Me Better', 'Moviestar', amongst other upbeat offerings from her acclaimed 'Overpowered' album. She must headline a main stage in Ireland soon.
 
Being a Polish music festival, it would have been either impossible or racist not to sample some Polish acts along the way. The band-names certainly impressed, especially Hungry Hungry Models and Pornohagen! Although Pornohagen were a cheap imitation of The Hives, there was other quality rock of Polish origin to find elsewhere. Tapping into the international language of post-rock, the Czech-shirted Polish-born 3-piece California Stories Uncovered had a nice instrumental-rocking-out-in-a-garage sound to them (albeit a pretty obvious yet incomplete rip-off of Mogwai). Krakow's Gasoline also delivered a more atmospheric instrumental-rock set, Eno-esque in parts and definitely worth checking out if you're looking to add to your go-to-sleep playlist. Hatifnats also impressed - this Warsaw 3-piece stuck to the good 'ol stadium rock - albeit in a marquee - but their sound is laden with New Order riffs coupled with a vocalist whose shouty vocals I can think remind only of Jane's Addiction’s Perry Farrell. 3 bands worth MySpaceing.
 
A major downside of the festival was the Heineken overkill - it was the only alcoholic drink available, no alternative of wine/smirnoff ice etc was on offer throughout the festival site (smuggled vodka only lasts for so long). However if lager is your cup of tea then Open'er 2008 was for you. The weather was hot, the campsite was mudless, the music was great - so after a weekend of extreme product placement I'd give the Open'er a highly recommended 4 Heineken cans out of 5!

Ronan Lawlor


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