The Cobblestone, Dublin,26 July 2001
It's like a furnace in here. Two small windows are open to let fresh air in, but they are so close to the ceiling only the tallest of punters will get any relief from them. We use beer mats as fans and shift in our seats. The mood lighting doesn't help matters. Candles flicker, flame and gutter adding to the heat building up in the room. There is also an air of expectation. Caliban haven't played to a Dublin crowd for a number of years, choosing instead to spend time playing festivals on the continent. They've also been working on their latest full-length release 'X:AM', the reason that we are gathered here this evening.
Tonight's gig will be the first time this particular line-up has played together. Frontman and founder member Anthony Bools, (vocals, guitar) along with originals Larry Shaw (violin) Al Cowan (drums) and Declan Mills (guest percussionist tonight) are joined by relative newcomers Ken Whelan (accordion) Niall Hoare, (bass) and Gerry O' Shaughnessy (electric). They kick off with 'Crossroads' an energetic and lively piece from the previous album release 'Dal Vivo' and after that it's a complete free for all..
The evolution of their style is evident as the setlist races back and forth through time. The trad influences which are so evident in old favourites like 'Riding' have softened into something much more subtle. The band has moved on and these boys know just how to please the crowd.
Soon we are all swaying in our seats, those of us who recognise the songs sing along and those who don't give it a bloody good try. And then comes 'Foundation' for which there is utter silence. Bools' vocals, which up to now have ranged from heartbroken schoolboy to raunchy porn star, suddenly sinks into a soft, sweet liquidity. This will have to be the single release, if it's not someone isn't doing their job.
We are given a 15 minute hiatus, time to move about and try to get some fresh air, time also for the lads to get another drink. Then they are back with no let-up in sight. The band is putting everything they have into this performance, their black and white suits soaking up the heat of the crushed room. After 10 years it is good to see that the intensity of their live performance has not diminished. This is due in part to the infusion of fresh blood in the shape of Whelan, Hoare and O'Shaughnessy.
We're getting into it now and the encore comes as a rude shock, surely it can't be that time already? But it is. Bools acts as conductor for the chorus of 'Dream a Little Dream' and then the band soothes us with 'Another Near Miss' a sweet lullaby sending us home to dream of forgotten loves. The boys done good.
Download Caliban's song 'God Bless the Devil inside you' for free on this CLUAS page