The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Gig Reviews

16
St Vincent, Papercuts, Camera Obscura (live in St Malo)
St Vincent, Papercuts and Camera Obscura (live at La Route du Rock, St Malo, France) Review Snapshot: A sensational performance from Annie Clark is the highlight of day two and perhaps eventually ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
15
My Bloody Valentine, Deerhunter, Tortoise (live in St Malo)
My Bloody Valentine, Deerhunter and Tortoise (live at La Route du Rock, St Malo, France) Review Snapshot: Three cult acts share an impressive bill on the Breton coast. The excellent Deerhunter con...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
10
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (live in Vancouver)
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (live in The Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver) Review Snapshot: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart put on a great show, marred only slightly by some odd song choices. The...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
04

Day Two of Castlepalooza 2009

Robotnik

Review Snapshot: The expected rain finally hit Castlepalooza on Sunday, though it did little to dampen spirits that were still high from the day before, while the second day saw some of the best performances of the weekend.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:
The Hot Sprockets, mostly dull though they were, had one gift: the ability to make the crowd forget that the rain had begun. Having paid far too much attention to the style and music of early Kings of Leon (the hairy days), they are nevertheless one of the few bands in Ireland at the moment whose main ethos is good naturedness and fun, making their show pretty enjoyable if not groundbreaking. In fact, they probably couldn’t be more different from the band that followed in the HMV tent: the quite frankly bizarre Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands. Dark, strange, and accompanied by a table of electronic instruments and gadgets – and an accordion – Patrick Kelleher and his band give the impression of people who have spent too much time together in a small room with little contact with the outside world. That doesn’t make them any less brilliant, his strange gothic-tinged music beautiful.

Sandwiched between Kelleher and Le Galaxie were the 202s, another band who made use of electronic backing tracks, though unlike Skibunny, they at least had the ability to capitalise on them. The 202’s are all catchy songs and varying sounds, and one to keep an eye on. Le Galaxie, as ever, proved themselves one of the strongest live forces doing the Dublin circuit at the moment. Their sound may be all power, created by discrete layers, but their strength really lies in their ability to interact with the crowd, at once terrifying the people in the front row by practically jumping on top of them and involving those at the back. The combined energy of any of the bands on Castlepalooza’s first day was nothing compared with the buzz from the crowd in the HMV tent for those 40 minutes.

The Chapters...well, the Chapters were alright, it's difficult to say much more than that. Inexplicably, the songs on their album, released earlier this year, are already beginning to sound dated, but unlike most acts over the weekend, the majority of their audience at least knew the songs. Robotnik, also on the Main Stage, proved to be my final act of the night, and though followed by Channel One and Noise Control, made a fantastic closing act. Though visibly nervous and unused to the imposed distance between himself and the audience, Chris Morrin quickly warmed to the situation, immersing himself in his usual antics and bizarre stage behaviour, including pelting the audience with bread during a version of Pat the Baker. To merely say Robotnik is quirky is to sell short his ability to entertain, entrance and of course create great music, strange though it might be.

Anna Murray


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
04

Day One of Castlepalooza 2009

Castlepalooza

Review Snapshot: The first day of this boutique festival was a mixed bag, a kind of rollercoaster tour of today's Irish indie. Altogether a great night, with just one or two low points.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:
This reviewer has always had a kind of love/hate relationship with Castlepalooza: though in all honesty, it’s not the fault of the festival. The first year it was my cheap, leaking tent and 14 hours of heavy rain; this year, the tent situation was circumvented by booking a very un-rock’n’roll B&B, it was the stomach upset, seemingly mild food poisoning from eating a dodgy chicken burger at the festival, which led to me shuffling off early on Sunday back to said B&B.

It’s hard to criticise a festival as selfless as this one. With a conspicuous lack of big corporate sponsorship (with the exception of HMV and Metro, whose presence were still unobtrusive), the whole weekend is run by volunteers and all to raise money for the restoration of the beautiful castle at which it is held. Not only that, but with the majority of all acts at the festival Irish, the organisers showed themselves to be dedicated to Irish music. On the other hand it is a boutique festival, and though eco-shops, workshops and a spa are a unique idea for inclusion in a festival, this one has begun already to descend into cheap gimmickry.

I finally reached Charleville Castle in time to catch Holy Roman Army at the HMV stage. Disappointingly for such a hotly-tipped band, they completely failed to make any kind of impression beyond leaving you vaguely questioning the point of having the sax just doubling the synth through most of their final songs. The Ambience Affair however, made a far greater impression by playing one of their best gigs so far. Some problems with sound and some beside-stage carpentry meant a delayed start, but The Ambience Affair simply and utterly absorbed the attention of the audience. A musician who has the layered structure of rock down to a fine art, Jamie Clarke’s guitar loops and samples really do create an inimitable ambience, part Final Fantasy, part small-club band.

Staying in the HMV tent after such an uplifting experience was perhaps ill-advised. The introduction promised an affair that was ‘the most deborched…and lecherous’… really The Rocky Horror Picture Show Live was nothing but embarrassing, for the people involved and everybody watching. Cue quick exit to the main stage and Angel Pier, a band with a lot of promise but a disappointing lack of stage presence. They are nonetheless a considerably stronger force than even one year ago, Angel Pier have a melody-driven pop-rock mix which is clearly still maturing.

Dark Room Notes, long a favourite of Cluas, didn’t disappoint. Even though their singer looked more trendy banker than rock god, the band is one of the few who can create an album-perfect sound without compromising live energy: energy is what DRN is all about, and while We Love You Dark Matter was one of the best releases of the year, they have definitively proven that their electro-indie was meant for the stage. Similarly, next band Super Extra Bonus Party simply live for performance. SEBP, though fallen quiet since their initial splash on the scene a few years ago, have a sound that is surprisingly refined and immaculately honed for the stage: club beats vie with heavy distortion and thumping rock basslines. In fact, SEBP would easily have qualified for putting on the best show of the weekend, were one - if not two-fifths - of the band being incredibly annoying onstage at all times (headbanging and generally cavorting in what just seemed a very contrived way).

From here, day one of Castlepalooza began to go downhill, starting with a steep dip: Skibunny. With a complete absence of a personality of any kind, the kind of lyrics that most people stop writing at age 14, some simply quite poor music and some cringey on-stage interaction, the duo’s only redeeming feature was their halfway-decent backing tracks. Never again. It was hard to fault the headlining David Kitt’s performance, but easy to fault the choice of line-up that led to his slot. As always he proved himself a brilliant musician and songwriter, assisted by Somadrone’s Neil O’Conner and playing some mean geetar. But as the build-up of heavy beats through Dark Room Notes, Super Extra Bonus Party and Project Jenny Project Jan made way for subtle grooves, loud aggression for nuance, and the crowd’s gentle inebriation for all-out pissed, Kitt simply failed to hold sway with most.

Anna Murray


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
27

U2 live in Croke Park, Dublin

U2 Croke Park DublinReview Snapshot: Well what's more fun than 80,000 people chanting anthems in Ireland's sporting Mecca on a summer's evening? A lot if you read the papers this week. Despite worries about the stage not being fully utilised, the prospect of preaching from "St Bono's Book of Glib", and an album still seeking its place in the wider public's consciousness; it was a blistering performance musically, if a little short. U2 seized the day and won out in the end. 

The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10

Full Review:

Are U2 the biggest and best band in the world? Are they a corporate entity living on past glory? Or are they an incredible group of perennial live performers who don't know when to quit trying to be relevant and just enjoy the show? The answer is probably a little of each of the above. This reviewer doesn't believe the much written garbage from certain elements of the Irish media who slate the latest offering as useless. No Line on the Horizon is not without its merits and contains a number of tunes that could live comfortably with any of their contemporaries. 

The crowd are predictably various in age. It makes for an interesting atmosphere. There is a large multinational presence with flags from all corners in the crowd. U2 are global, like no other. The first thing that struck this reviewer was the impressive stage structure. The gargantuan orange fingers of the "Claw" jutted out of different points in the crowd.  Unfortunately the second thing that struck me was the empty grey concrete stand of the Hill behind the stage. Despite what others may say, it did take away from the aesthetics and visual impact of the stage structure, especially if you had a pitch vantage. 

Dublin's four most famous living people take to the stage at 8.50. "Breathe" kicks off the night. It's an energetic and curious opener. The song itself is average on the record, but as with U2, live it gets a new lease of life. Plus, Bono's voice is in great nick. The title track from the new record follows. From a personal point of view, this should have been a single from the record. It's in the chorus of "No Line..." that the crowd starts to buzz. Admittedly there isn't very much "singing along", indicating the intentions of the crowd to hear the choice cuts from the U2 songbook. 

"Get on your Boots" while probably not one of the bands strongest hits, gets a boost live. People are jumping. Its meandering guitar riff and thumping rhythm get the capacity crowd going. "Magnificent" is up next and as widely perceived as the highest point on the new record it goes down a storm. It's clear the band are extremely well rehearsed and there are no hitches. Bono's voice comes to the fore and there is a sense of purpose in his voice. "I was born to sing for you" he says and the fans believe it. 

U2 have never been a band to shirk from selling their wares, and have the guts to try new things. Hence the opening four tracks coming from the Luke-warm received (critically) new album. It's sort of ironic that the next track "Beautiful Day" is the song that brought the band back in from the half empty stadiums of the POP tour.

Its infectious melody lifts the spirits of everyone there and it is indeed, beautiful! 

"This song is dedicated to Sinead O Connor", Bono says as the Edge lays the opening wah wah lick of "Mysterious Ways". The entire stadium goes nuts. Taken from the band's richest phase creatively it reminds everyone of why U2 are history makers. 

Bono even serenades a young Chilean fan who asks cheekily where he lives…."It's in Kiliney, speak to the missus, she's very understanding" he says to laughter and cheers. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" begins and falls into "Stand By Me". The atmosphere is beginning to peak. It's an 80,000 plus karaoke session. "Angel of Harlem" with a hint of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop T'il You Get Enough" continues the mass sing along. "In A Little While", a gem from "All You Cant Leave Behind" rings out. It's a beautiful little tune and it leads into the loudest screams of the night. "The Unforgettable Fire" burns a hole in the night sky. It's a poignant moment for many older members of the crowd. It's impressive stuff. Bono is in full flight. The ramps at the sides of the stage are used to full effect. "City of Blinding Lights" and "Vertigo" follow with a bongo ridden remix of "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight".  

The stadium was electric. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is rung out to the visuals of protests in Iran. The fans go wild. It's a wonderful song and the most popular one of the night so far. Bono ad libs "Rock The Kasbah" through the end of the song which gives it added punch.

And that's when it happened. One hour and twenty minutes in, and Rock Star Bono took a breather for a cigar and a rum and coke while St. Bono emerged. Every charity this side of Rio was sound, checked. A video played showing Burmese democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi who is under house arrest. The cause is admirable, and it's well meaning on U2's part. However getting people to walk around a stage at a rock'n'roll show they paid a lot of money to see, wearing masks is outrageous and crass. It got worse. St Bono wouldn't leave it at that. The "One" organisation got its dues. And then a recorded message from Desmond Tutu (no I didn't think he was in U2 either) followed. It's part of U2's fabric and this reviewer appreciates that, but flogging your charity at people during a rock'n'roll show is crass, inappropriate, and nearly ruined an otherwise impeccable performance. 

"Walk On" and "MLK" followed, and St Bono took a hike. Good riddance.

Rock Star Bono was back. "Where the Streets Have No Name" rejuvenated the deflated crowd. The bass line still sends shivers up and down this reviewer's spine. "One" illuminates the sky and it's a rock n roll love in. All is good and beautiful. 

The band came back on for the encore. An old school mike was lowered to Rock Star Bono. He dragged on it, swung on it and paraded the showmanship and vocals that made him cool back in 1992. Oh and "Ultra Violet" was the tune! For this reviewer, this would have been a fine point to leave off on. "With or Without You" had to be played for the die hard fans though. And respect is due for the purpose and sincerity the band managed to convey during it too. 

However "Moment of Surrender" while certainly one of the highlights of the band's latest offering, was most definitely the pin in the balloon for many. As the stretching vocals reached climax in the chorus, folks began to think about where they were off to for a jar.

Like I said, U2 were never ones to shirk from selling their new wares. Still, the vocals were flaweless and the band sounded tight and very polished. The stage show was immense. U2 continue to be the world leaders in live show performances, but Bono is doing his best to spoil this for the rest of the band with his peddling of personal agendas ahead of doing what he does best.

Kevin Coleman


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
24

Bruce Springsteen (live in the RDS, Dublin)

Bruce Springsteen live in RDS DublinReview Snapshot: A rain soaked, recession obsessed city is lit up by the thundering guitar of an American hero. Bruce was in town last weekend for a two night stint at the RDS. Working on a Dream, the latest offering by the Boss has done the business commercially, and there is more than a few stand out tunes to sing along to. Inevitably it's the old favourites, belted out by the show-stopping, jet-flying, limousine-riding E-Street band that folks come to see. And even in the grey & damp confines of the RDS, Bruce lit up the sky for 3 hours 20 minutes.  

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:
I must confess the first time I was fortunate enough to see Bruce Springsteen live was as late as 2005 in the Point. It was the tour supporting the collection of Pete Seeger songs he recorded that year. It was excellent stuff too; pure blue grass with a tint of rock and roll and a collection of flawlessly talented, if varied, musicians. I must have been alone in my personal satisfaction as in the gents, grunting lads of a certain age were growling "Where's Born to Run?", and "I paid for Jungleland, what's this shite?" It was then that it dawned on me. Bruce's albums sell well, even the new releases. But when it comes to Bruce live, people buy tickets, regardless of what album or cover collection he is supporting. It's a sort of religion. It was last year I began to understand this when I saw the E-Street band for the first time.

So, with tickets obtained at the last minute, we went along to "The Boss". As usual, no support act. 8pm on the button, "No Surrender" is played to screams, chants of 'Bruuuuce!' and whistles of appreciation. Straight into "Badlands" and the entire stadium feels like it's moving. As I said before, it's sort of like a religious celebration. The crowd is a mixed bag as to be expected with a FOUR decade spanning career. "Lucky Day", "Outlaw Pete" and "WorkinG on a Dream" follow from the new record. The place is still buzzing. Remarkable, especially considering he is playing some of the "new stuff". But like his live shows, The Boss' new stuff is still pushes the right buttons for many.

A surprising rendition of "Proud Mary" leads into the 9/11 inspired "Waiting on a Sunny Day". Strangely the song takes on a temporary literal meaning in the recession gripped misery that is the modern Irish summer. Bruce then sound checks some famous Dublin spots. Burdocks & O'Donohues were amongst them. Two and a half hours in and "Born to Run" tears strips off the night sky. It's difficult to believe as he bounces around the stage like a teenager that this is a 59 year old man performing.  

The encore as with the show I had attended last year was a frenzied, screaming, dancing manic affair. “Dancing in the Dark”, “Jungleland”, “Glory days” really blew the top off the place and the entire stadium was dancing, jumping and screaming. It was pandemonium.  A surprise cover of “Twist and Shout” meant Bruce and the lads could be subject to a fine for rolling past the council curfew. Never mind Bruce, I’m sure there are many who would be more than willing to chip in and cover whatever fine will be handed out!

Kevin Coleman


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
24

The Decemberists (live in The Vogue Theatre, Vancouver)

Review Snapshot: The Decemberists are an unusual band. They have a knack for integrating theatre into their music in a way that many bands attempt to, but few actually accomplish with the same gusto as the Portland outfit. Far too often this merging of ideas tends to take away from one or the other and more often than not it is the music that suffers. The audience that packed into The Vogue Theatre in downtown Vancouver last night, however, were treated to a feast of over the top storytelling and live music.

The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10

Full Review:
An anticipative crowd queued outside the arena in the unforgiving Canadian sunshine for a good two hours before being admitted. The Vogue is an intimate venue and perfect for a band as interactive as The Decemberists and was comprised of a ground floor and balcony, both of which were seated. In relation to Irish venues it was only slightly bigger than the Academy, but boasted better sound and easy access to the bar. 

The headline act appeared to attract a fairly motley bunch. A number of people nestled quietly into their chairs with a good book, some casually played Nintendo DS, whilst others sat decked head to toe in Decemberists inspired clothes (the Winter Queen was in attendance, sporting a crown fashioned from leaves) and waited patiently for the show. 

Up first were support act Blind Pilot who played a short set to a surprisingly receptive response. They were proficient players, but none of their songs were out of the ordinary. My cousin commented that it was music you would listen to on a train going somewhere you didn’t really want to go. Comparisons were immediately struck with Damien Rice, though Blind Pilot certainly lacked a Blowers Daughter or Volcano

The Decemberists quickly followed and their opening set was comprised of their latest album, The Hazards of Love. The album was done as a story and the tale was re-told live for about an hour, pretty much non stop, with the exception of brief pauses for sips of wine or the changing of tambourines. It did however drag along at times, and just as I was about to borrow a DS from the girl in front of me for a quick game of Pokemon, the set ended and they retreated for an intermission. 

Those who had raced to the front of the stage retreated to their seats and took out the bookmarks. There really is nothing quite like getting a good read of Twilight in while your waiting for your favourite artfully theatrical alternative indie band to resume. The band’s second set contained tracks from earlier albums, including the hits O Valencia and We Both Go Down Together. It was frantic and made all the more enjoyable by lead singer Colin Meloy’s witty crowd banter. 16 Military Wives was arguably the best received song of the night, particularly when Meloy divided the room and assigned each section with singing duties. 

The show finished with an entertaining re-enactment of the founding of Vancouver, which involved band members entering the crowd and standing on drums, pretending to be Native Americans and Norwegian sailors. All in all it was an unforgettable performance by one of the great theatrical acts around today.

Kevin Boyle


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
13
Oxegen 2009 Day Three (live in Punchestown, Kildare)
Day Three of Oxegen 2009   Review Snapshot: While I didn't get to see as many bands as I would have liked to on Day Three of Oxegen 2009, those that I did see continued to impres...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
12
Day Two Oxegen 2009 (live in Punchestown, Co. Kildare)
Review of Day Two of Oxegen 2009 Review Snapshot: Day Two of Oxegen 2009 was all about rain, rock and roll.  Despite the weather, or maybe because of it, the majority of acts seemed to u...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
Page 5 of 15First   Previous   1  2  3  4  [5]  6  7  8  9  10  Next   Last   

Search Articles

Nuggets from our archive

2007 - REM live in the Olympia, by Michael O'Hara. Possibly the definitive review of any of REM's performances during their 2007 Olympia residency. Even the official REM website linked to it.