Review of their gig in the Ambassador, Dublin, 22 February 2003
It's a packed house in the Ambassador on a Saturday night and a hush falls as
Frank Capra's "Lost Horizon" flickers and glows on the silver screen. As the
melodramatic music score fills the hall, there's a hush of anticipation. It's
fantasy of course - the Ambassador is not a cinema any more, Dublin's young,
beautiful, beered up and the loved up are not here to see the 1937 Ronald
Coleman classic but are waiting for the arrival of Lemonjelly, the first great
band of the noughties.
Listening to their opener, the sublime "Space Walk", I realise I've spent thirty years listening to some awful rubbish but Lemonjelly's "KY" and "Lost Horizons" make it all seem worthwhile. These two releases are a dazzling fusion of the spoken word, beats that shimmer and sway, and melodies that were born beyond heaven. Better again, Lemonjelly are fun, and funny.
I had hoped this great band would go the distance and get out a proper touring band but instead it's just Nick and Fred and their samples. They're a funny pair, a million miles removed from showbiz. If they were not in a band they would probably be out robbing orchards or cooking up some awful wheeze.
Lemonjelly's sound could have been cranked up quite a bit and some of the spoken samples got lost in the mix. If it had not been for the fact that Nick'n'Fred dabbled on stage with guitar, cello and percussion you could be conned into thinking that theirs was an Orbital type set-up. However Orbital are serious, intense and essentially dark while Lemonjelly play it strictly for laughs. Orbital's visuals and lightshows pound their audiences into an aural coma but Lemonjelly's lighting, featuring slender pillars of changing colour, look like something from a 3000 AD dreamhouse, and their backdrops tease rather than terrify. During "Nice weather for ducks", their anthem and biggest single, the screen is filled with hundreds and hundreds of dancing?ducks. It sounds awful but looks great.
A good gig but not a great gig. I suspect Lemonjelly's future fame will rest with their recorded rather than their live work.