National Prayer Breakfast
Review of their gig in Whelan's, Dublin, March 18, 2000
Oh, the streets are swimming in urine and lost children, I've been asked directions twice on Thomas Street by tourists, so I arrive at Whelan's from the back way to avoid the dreaded town. Two p.m. on a rainy Saturday and there are actually people waiting at the door to get in. The enthusiasm of youth and the fact that the door is a bit more lenient at this time of the day
This band can pull a crowd, even at two in the afternoon. That just has to be good.
There's a scene in 'Wild at Heart' where Nick Cage goes into a nightclub and there's a Country'n'Industrial band playing (was it Dirty Three? I dunno, enlighten me please). This is who The National Prayer Breakfast remind me of. A band from a movie rather than a real band. Low-slung months in Death Valley lonely cowpoke mutants living off mescal and hanging with Al Jourgenson. Of course, this is probably because Daragh, the bass player was wearing a cowboy hat.
They look the part on stage, the image matches the songs, hard loud rock with nicely tempered feedback - my favourite kind, and at least two excellent songs. The girl next to me shouts 'this is one of their b-sides' as they all swap instruments and start singing about 'Gun Control'.
The song is great, a stomping keyboard riff tying down razor guitars, and one of those great shouty choruses that come along when the songwriter just puts two good words together - 'gun' and 'control'.
The A-side 'Pop Song' even better, not that they sound anything like it but I'm reminded of 'Girl From Mars', just good solid hard pop.
No way are these guys fading violets or fey folksy troubadours, they're not interested in looking damaged. This is a serious macho outfit, and dead sexy with it. Its great to see a band that rock hard without any of the pretence of metal or any of that misunderstoodedness nonsense. National Prayer Breakfast know what it is to be cool, it seems to be something they've studied. Studied cool is the best kind, and any band with a song called 'Kim Novak' must have been cramming hard. I want to see the National Prayer Breakfast in leather trousers. Now.
Rotating a panel of members and instruments seems to be the fashion in Dublin bands these days, Deputy Fuzz, one of the support acts had been doing it earlier on. NPB start with some understated tunes with a female backing singer, mellow, you know, and she joins then again later to add more. It's a nice touch and fills the sound out live but I always think that, in terms of performance, too much messing around on stage takes away form the general ambience. Just a small gripe though.