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Articles: Gig Reviews

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Manic Street Preachers (live in Hong Kong) Review Snapshot: Great show, but why didn't the avowed socialists come play Red China? The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full Review: Opening with Motorcycle Emptiness, the Manics made the best of a bad turnout in Hong Kong to deliver a stash of their hits and a cover of Nirvana’s Penny Royal Tea. The new and the old, Autumn Song and Faster came early on, followed by that solid cover of Rihanna’s Umbrella, which has become a staple of their live set on this tour. It’s strange that the supposedly socialist Manic Street Preachers came to Hong Kong, the most capitalistic piece of land in Asia, rather than north to Beijing? The Chinese capital’s gritty soul and priceless layers of bittersweet history and colourful characters reads like a Manics songbook. Maybe it's because they're scared of bumping into their old collaborator Kylie Minogue - she got a mention during the Hong Kong set - has been i... [Read on]
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02
Roisin Murphy (live in The Olympia Theatre, Dublin) Review Snapshot:  Róisín Murphy is, without doubt, Ireland’s greatest female performer and seeing her live results in a full on assault on your eyes and ears. That Murphy pulls it off whilst barely stopping for a breath is a testament to how much effort is put into staging such a spectacular show. The Cluas Verdict? 9.5 out of 10 Full Review: Quirky is one of those words that can be used as a compliment as often as it can be used to insult somebody. It’s certainly a word that could be used to describe British electronic artist Bishi, last night’s support act. Arriving on stage dressed as a cross between Princess Leia and Cleopatra and armed only with an i-Pod and a sitar, Bishi certainly knew how to make an entrance. Thankfully there was substance to go with the, ahem, style and her fusion of tango, folk, pop and electronica served to warm up an audience that was getting lar... [Read on]
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Tindersticks (live in Dublin)
Tindersticks (live in Vicar Street, Dublin) Review Snapshot:  At a time of year when the ‘Best album’ gongs and baubles are being handed out, tonight’s impeccable performance serves as a reminder that ‘The Hungry Saw’ is as good as any record released this calendar year. It also served notice of Tindersticks’ return to form as a compelling live act. The Cluas Verdict?  9.5 out of 10 Full Review: It has been a remarkable year for Tindersticks. Rumours of the band’s demise had seemingly been concretized once Stuart Staples embarked upon his own solo career – in the process releasing the quite wonderful ‘Leaving Songs’ – whilst in-band politics rendered it impossible for them to remain as they once were. Exit Dickon Hinchcliffe - to concentrate on film scores - and enter a new era for the band.   The evening begins, appropriately enough, with ‘Introduction’ – the first sound... [Read on]
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Okkervil River (live in Dublin)
Okkervil River (live in The Academy, Dublin) Review Snapshot:  Their second visit to these shores in under twelve months sees Okkervil River battle with The Academy’s all too obvious limitations yet still produce a set which cements their reputation for a compelling live show. The Cluas Verdict?  9 out of 10  Full Review: Okkervil River are the band you haven‘t allowed yourself to love. Yet. Their continued existence – indeed, their present flourishing - is grounded upon their fan base’s affection for the band’s fascination with life in a band (particularly on their two most recent albums), nascent fame and all of its associated tawdriness. This co-existence is neatly played out tonight when the opening chords of ‘Pop Lie’ begin - the crowd shamelessly echoing Will Sheff as he sings: “He’s the liar who lied in his pop song, and you’re lying when you sing along.” The irony is, perhaps, lost o... [Read on]
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14
Aimee Mann (live in Tripod, Dublin) Review Snapshot: An occasionally shambolic but enjoyable night, culminating with a great set from one of the best American songwriters in the world today. The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: The evening started off with Los Angeles husband and wife team The Submarines, who I knew nothing about before tonight but proved to be a pleasant discovery. It wasn’t hard to see why Aimee Mann picked them to support her on her current tour, as their music is precisely the same kind of catchy melodic rock that the likes of Crowded House, Squeeze and Aimee Mann do so well. The couple, with a drummer filling out their sound, powered through a hook-laden set that impressed me enough to pick up one of their albums at the merchandise box afterwards. Next up was Sharon Shannon’s Big Band, who lived up to their name with ten of them cramming on to Tripod’s stage. Not being a great fan of Irish trad I had planned on skipping ... [Read on]
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13
Neon Neon (live in Tripod, Dublin) Review Snapshot: Side-projects are so hot right now, but these guys are just cool. Neon Neon is a conglomerate of decidedly super-ferrite animals, and they transported the Tripod crowd through an audio-visual interpretation of John DeLorean’s life with the same frenzy in which he lived it. DeLorean’s car was the pièce de résistance in Back To The Future trilogy, and over 20 years on Neon Neon are still making the DeLorean past seem like the future. The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full Review: I think the term juxtaposition applies here: Neon Neon is a collaborative project from producer Boom Bip and Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys - amongst others - entirely devoted to Detroit-born engineer and entrepreneur John DeLorean and the “dream” car he produced near Belfast primarily for the American market. Hmmm.... Whilst The Good, The Bad and The Queen had their Dickensian, urbane merits... [Read on]
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10
Mercury Rev (live in Galway)
Mercury Rev (live in Róisín Dubh, Galway) Review Snapshot: With their recorded output of late suggesting the band have lost their studio and creative focus, their current tour is a litmus test of whether they still have the live presence to carry what is, after all, a largely stunning back catalogue. The intimate confines of Róisín’s suggested – in parts – that they haven’t and they won’t. The Cluas Verdict? 6.5 out of 10 Full Review: For all of the diminishing returns in the studio in recent years, Mercury Rev have always been an eminently bankable live act. Live, their songs have been free to breathe, far away from studio excesses and overproduction. One of the most intriguing prospects prior to this show was how they would transform 2008’s disappointing ‘Snowflake Midnight’ into the live arena. The results are unconvincing, with the notable exception of ‘Senses on Fire’ w... [Read on]
Posted in: Gig Reviews, Galway
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Port O'Brien (live in Dublin)
Port O'Brien (live in Crawdaddy, Dublin) Review Snapshot: Port O’Brien come to Dublin on the back of their excellent ‘All We Could Do Was Sing’ album, but fail to recapture the energy displayed on the record for the most part of the gig. The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10 Full Review: ‘A damn cold night outside’, proclaims Van Pierszalowski. Considering he spent many months every year as a teenager as a fisherman on boat in Alaska, that’s saying something. Still though, despite the weather and some financial crisis I keep hearing about, the punters were not put off. About 100 people turned up to see Port O’Brien, the band that has been receiving favourable reviews from the Times and Pitchfork for their latest album, ‘All We Could Do Was Sing’. Maybe it is due to the fact that Ireland is the last stop on their European tour, but the performance seemed tired and lacking the exuberance I expected from this band. Both ... [Read on]
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Noah and the Whale (live in Whelan's, Dublin) Review Snapshot: An enjoyable night of folk-pop, that included the song we all came for: “Five Years Time”. The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: It was a large and excitable crowed packed into Whelan’s to see Charlie Fink and his troop of pop-folk instrumentalists. The age-range went from just old enough to be there, all the way up to – as I could see it - fifty. Noah and the Whale clearly have a wide following, owing much of it to the extensive radio- and music channel play of their first single “Five Years Time” and also, the Laura Marling connection. No longer playing with the band, female vocal duty has been taken over by a red haired girl, whose name I did not catch. Also present on stage, a small brass section, violin and some keyboards. After building some suspense, and showing a strange short film, they took the stage. Although well-translated to live as a whole, the st... [Read on]
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Vampire Weekend (live in The Ambassador Theatre, Dublin) Review Snapshot:  Living up to and, indeed, surpassing their Oxegen appearance, Vampire Weekend are a fun band with multitude of good songs.  It's just a pity they're all so short. The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10 Full Review: Is it still cool to like Vampire Weekend or has the backlash started yet? That seemed to be the question on most people’s lips last night as a packed Ambassador Theatre waited in nervous anticipation for New York’s finest purveyors of ‘Upper West Side Soweto.’ The answer to that question would have to wait though, at least until after New Amusement finished their support set. I really wasn’t sure what to make of New Amusement last night. Undoubtedly they write some catchy songs and the majority of their set consisted of songs from their excellent mini-album Any Port in a Storm. However, singer Brian Molloy was plagued by tuning iss... [Read on]
Posted in: Gig Reviews, Dublin
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