Wallmark (support from 66e and Polar)
Review of their gig in Whelan's, Dublin, 24 February 2005
This album launch from one of the finest Irish bands around (with support coming from two interesting acts) proved to be worth every cent charged and the horrible stamp imprinted on each hand upon entry to the reasonably packed venue.
The CLUAS Verdict?
8.5 out of 10
Wallmark have been around for a few years now but were always the kind of band that was tipped for something bigger. Exhibiting some of that fresh zeal of professionalism currently affecting many Irish acts Wallmark jumped from being a band stuck at the crossroads to a band who have the ability to turn some heads when they start touring abroad.
But before Wallmark hit the stage came two intriguing prospects 66e and Polar.
66e are a band that are infamous around the Irish underground scene for their live performances, so expectations were high as they ambled on stage setting up their gear. With quirky guitars and keyboards sounding a little too distorted, the crowd were slow to warm to the band. Then effecting tunes like 'Scrambled Pictures' and '66e Are Home' teased the heartbeat of some - luring them in with racy riffs & powerful drums, only to slow it all down again to a level of eerie, off key adventure. Even when this band isn't on top form, they are still very engaging.
Next up were Polar. Individually they all excel with their instruments but there is a lack of bite to their overall sound and stage presence. Despite the obvious fan base that they have, Polar may they need a good producer to recognise their faults. Throughout their set, the drumming was on top form and both the lead & bass guitars had their shining moments, as did Gavin's vocals. Sadly though, their collective sound failed to reach the heights that it seems to be capable of achieving.
From the opening chords of 'Crazy' (and Dave's intelligent use of cupped hands for echoed backing vocals), it was immediately clear that Wallmark were fired up for this performance. The crowd swayed back and forth. The house lights dimmed. People put their petty conversations on hold. Even the bar tender(s) turned to pay attention to Padraig's gripping vocals. He sang with such a direct drive, as if he was lost in his headphones singing along to songs that he loves. This affected the crowd in a way they weren't expecting - getting under their fingernails, scaling along the veins to take control of the senses.
'Dryland' and 'Closed' further proved Padraig's vocal capabilities while also introducing Joe's excellent drumming, Phil's meandering bass playing and Dave's injection of guitars and Chad Kroeger-like vocals. Whether the pace sped up or slowed down, Wallmark retained an attractive grittiness to their sound at all times. Every avenue that they led the audience down always ended in a cul de sac of pleasing proportions. 'Orion' tugged at the emotions, 'This Is All' had a 'Greendale' type of feel and 'Make Sense' had some members of the crowd howling with delight. Then Ian McNulty took over the bass and Ed from 66e & Gav from Polar took up backing vocal duties on 'Melodies & Lines'- a ridiculously infectious tune that swooned with a beautiful vulnerability. Each song proved just how strong the band is and how much they love playing live.
Simply put: Wallmark were really good and sent the majority of the crowd rushing home to listen to the debut album 'Everything, Something, Anything'.