The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Port O'Brien (live in Crawdaddy, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Port O’Brien come to Dublin on the back of their excellent ‘All We Could Do Was Sing’ album, but fail to recapture the energy displayed on the record for the most part of the gig.

The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10

Full Review:
‘A damn cold night outside’, proclaims Van Pierszalowski. Considering he spent many months every year as a teenager as a fisherman on boat in Alaska, that’s saying something. Still though, despite the weather and some financial crisis I keep hearing about, the punters were not put off. About 100 people turned up to see Port O’Brien, the band that has been receiving favourable reviews from the Times and Pitchfork for their latest album, ‘All We Could Do Was Sing’.

Maybe it is due to the fact that Ireland is the last stop on their European tour, but the performance seemed tired and lacking the exuberance I expected from this band. Both the older tracks from their first album and their new material were deadweight for their set list. They were not helped by the technical problems that made Zebedee Zaitz perform the first two songs solo, or the fact that the banjo players string snapped. The songs were a bit lifeless and felt like they were being played as a chore. The band’s crowd interaction was a welcome distraction from their overlong tuning breaks. They did not know that Boyzone were Irish! That revelation answered the question of who is the greatest musical export that Dublin has to boast.

When they did play from ‘All We Could Do Was Sing’ the crowd reacted well, but the songs often lacked the urgency, claustrophobia and fervour that is heard on the record. The band ended on ‘I Woke Up Today’, the opening track of the album, and the band’s greatest moment so far. Pots and pans were dispersed throughout the fans to bang along in time with the music and the crowd were encouraged to, nay ordered to, sing along. This was the sort of performance I came to see and it redeemed the gig. The energy that had been lacking throughout was explosively released at once. No encore - there was no way they could come back out and top that.

This was a somewhat disappointing performance from the band that has produced one of this year’s better albums. Still though, their farewell song was enough to make it worth the long walk over to Crawdaddy.

Garret Cleland

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Nuggets from our archive

2003 - Witnness 2003, a comprehensive review by Brian Kelly of the 2 days of what transpired to be the last ever Witnness festival (in 2004 it was rebranded as Oxegen when Heineken stepped into the sponsor shoes).