Review of their gig in The Hub, Dublin, 29 June 2006
A huge reputation, a stone cold video in "We Still Got It," full on instrumental, and a dash of mystique? I was looking forward to this. Swept up in the gig the first section blew my mind: total crowd movement, dynamic stage presence, and great, great tunes. Towards the end, the composition lost out, and a lack of improvisation ensured that the band never hit that glorious detour needed to drive home a gig. All the same it was enjoyable, unique in these parts, and good clean fun.
The CLUAS Verdict? 7.5 out of 10
The Redneck Manifesto came together in 1998. Since then they have recorded 2 albums, (with a 3rd on the way) released a number of EPs and built a large and rabidly loyal fan base across Ireland. In fact, and to their credit, The Redneck Manifesto are one of the very few Irish bands who can draw large crowds nationwide, a telling testament to their widespread, cult-like status. Top this with headline festival appearances, top flight support slots, and add a fair splash of funk and the Manifesto seem to be the ultra cool (and not at all nasty) indie version of a wet dream.
Somehow, up until now, I've never seen them live. But long taunted by delirious tales of some crazy mad instrumental group blowing unsuspecting minds at the Electric Picnic, or Chinese whispers emerging from friends of friends in the dark deviant backwaters of Cork, I was looking forward to this. And, in a pleasant twist on Murphy's law, I was not disappointed.
Unusually for the Hub there was a strong door presence, (though non of the cloak and dagger, James Bond awash in temple bar drama I was to experience a week later) and the boozy pre-gig grapevine whispered of a sold out show. How accurate this was I don't know, but downstairs was hot, sweaty and more then a little jumped up. There was a definite edge of expectation in the air, aided and fuelled by possibly the grooviest between set tunes I've heard in a long time, and when the lights went down, and the Rednecks took the stage, people surged.
Being but a new initiate, the songs were mostly unfamiliar. But whatever the name of that first tune, and it really doesn't matter, I've never seen such an immediate or bizarre reaction. A shimmering instantaneous outbreak of bop, the horizontal strut sliding from a fluid stage presence and sucking the crowd into a swirling vortex of head nodding, hip shaking, foot stomping mass movement. Like some far out cult without the dodgy cool aid, it was a public zone out, lost to the groove and epitomised by the end of tune single bass notes, delivered from far out on stage right, and driving a heavy, heavy sound that came from somewhere far beyond the waking, infringing on the realms ofSyd. In fact in the right frame of mind this is music you can get lost to. A mind stuttering through the furthest reaches of the DMZ, jolting from languid jazz groove to frenetic bombardment, before shuddering back with foot tapping energy? 'Seven' came from that strange place, heavier, loud as f**k and more than a little crazy.
The drummer is amazing. Like a drum machine with soul he is faultless, nailing the back beat to the wall and anchoring each and every tune. But maybe this practiced perfection is where the only fault of the gig, and the Manifesto themselves, lies. These are spot on, clever, superbly well composed songs, played by very good musicians. But this is music that lends itself to improvisation, dragging everyone through the door grooving, and laying down the perfect launch pad for something strange, special and excessive. Unfortunately, it never comes. Excitement is always carefully reigned in, tightly wrought, perfectly scripted, but ultimately manicured fun.
For me the initial excitement and push dragged towards the end, it was just too well presented and tight, never building up into the wild funk frenzy promised by the sound and evident ability. If that happens these ambitious Rednecks could be something truly amazing, as it is they are still definitely worth seeing.
Check out our review of the Redneck Manifesto live in Dublin way back in April 2000.