Stoat, Tandem Felix & Paul O'Reilly
Funnel, Dublin, 27 August 1999
I had a funny moment recently when it dawned on me that the nerve-gnawing day I picked up my Leaving Cert results was
- wait for it - a massive ten years ago. In truth it left me feeling uneasy and even had the knee-joint cartilage
feeling a bit queasy. Weak at the knees indeed, but for all the wrong reasons.
Back then in 1989, with no Temple Bar to run rampage through, we would have been at a bit of a loss for celebrating the end of the school era if it wasn't for that old codger Jim Kerr and his Simple Minded mates. They had the consideration of penciling in a Dublin gig the very same evening our results finally hit our sweaty palms. So that seminal evening of my Irish youth was spent blindly stomping it out in the RDS Show jumping arena to such mistaken 'classics' as "Don't you forget about me" and "Belfast Child".
Ten years later it seems that it's just not good enough anymore to celebrate your Leaving Cert by crawling along to a gig - these days you have to organise a gig yourself! Or so it seemed on Friday last down in the Funnel where Paul O'Reilly - fresh from picking up his Leaving Cert last week - organised a great night of music from local musicians under the banner of 'Melancholia', the free-sheet he publishes.
It was a gig however that almost didn't happen. One of the bands - MINT - pulled out at the last minute because their lead singer had the insouciance to head over to the Reading Festival (to be honest a perfectly acceptable rock'n'roll excuse, a tough one to argue with).
Faced with a last-minute hole in the bill would put the fear of God into some promoters, but not to Swords man Paul. It's no problem of course because all you've got to do is find a mate who can play a bit of guitar, sit down with him for a few hours the day before the gig, write a few songs and then get up on the stage and play them. Sorted.
And so, with Paul on drums and his friend Padraig on guitar, the first Melancholia gig kicked off. They played a short set of stripped-down songs, indebted it seems to some of the Smashing Pumpkins' mellower moments. The short rehearsal time the lads had to prepare was evident in the playing and, yes it could have been tighter but that's not what's important here. Pulling a bunch of original songs together at the last minute (even writing the lyrics to their closing song on the bus in to town!) gets the thumbs up from this corner of CLUAS. It's the sort of 'can do' spirit many a band would be the better for if they could manage to put their finger on it.
They were followed by "Tandem Felix" a young four-piece, also from Swords. When they started playing I was sitting down the back on a stool but found myself suddenly upright after hearing the first few bars of their opening song. Don't ask me what it was called - that doesn't matter. What hit me was the excellent tight delivery, the impressive chorus and particularly the conviction in the vocal. This was striking stuff. Unfortunately though it went downhill from there. The playing seemed to lose some of its glue and the guitar suffered from overuse of the effect peddles. However, on the basis of that great opening song they've definitely something to build on and it'll be interesting to see them evolve.
'Stoat' was the third and final band to dirty the Funnel boards. They are a three-piece act spitting an up-beat and humourous spin on the rock'n'roll medium and who deviously plotted to bring a smile to all present.
Imagine, for a moment, if "A House" had been fans of "They Might be Giants". The resulting musical output might have qualified for the territory Stoat are now making claim to. Wacky, original, engaging and - God forbid - funny (as guitar music should be once in a while). Stoat were an indisputable romping foot stomp.
Rhythm change was a big part of their conspiracy - one moment guitarist John would be busy stealing a mutated reggae riff (as the Police did twenty years before) when in would breeze Cormac with a driving bass line "la Pixies. Pushing all this along was the insane drums of Steve. CLUAS can report that 'Animal' of the Muppet Show is alive and thumping (incognito) in Dublin. Full blame, I have been informed, can be apportioned to the Hot Press "musician wanted" small ads.
In particular their song "Resistiliro" had the Funnel faithful well and truly bagged. It's a song that would perform a service to this country - and its Constitution - if allowed to ravage the nation's airwaves, even for one day. Information sources reveal that the recently acquired Stoat Villa in the south of France is available to any A&R scouts willing to help it commit such acts of treason...
Their frenetic and thoroughly enjoyable set was brought over the finish line with a punked-up reading of the Ms. Lauper's classic naff eighties tune "Girls just wanna have fun". It had the sophisticated and regal audience gagging for more but, alas, Stoat had to have their Stout, and any encores had to get to the back of the queue. Maybe next time.
This was a great evening and maybe the Melancholia gigs will become a regular feature on the Dublin gigging landscape. I don't know about you but I need nights like this to loosen up that cartilage...
Have you checked out the stuff going down on the CLUAS Discussion Board"