The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Fight Like Apes (live in Whelans, Dublin)

Fight Like ApesReview Snapshot: I still haven't decided whether I enjoyed this gig or not. Fight Like Apes themselves were undeniably excellent as ever, but an over-excited crowd made the whole thing a manic affair.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:

I think I preferred Fight Like Apes when they were just starting out. While I always admired their ability to get an often-bemused crowd moving, they seemed to have honed this into an ability to induce spontaneous loss of limb control and often senses. Last night’s album launch gig in Whelans, was one of the most terrifying gig experiences of my life: after a heavy hour of being squashed, I left nursing an aching head from the impact with a metal dustbin and aching neck from the impact with someone’s elbow as I was crushed between two people reaching for a crowd-surfer, bruised arms and a dress that stank of spilled drink. And I narrowly missed being egged while walking home, although I can’t really hold the gig to blame for that one.

But yet it was inexplicably one of the best gig experiences. Nearly all of the problems of this gig were the result of the young and over-excited crowd, whereas Fight Like Apes themselves played a blinding set, with admirably few album plugs. There is very little of interest to say of their support band, whose name I couldn’t even catch, but that they need to learn that noise and screams are much more effective reserved for climactic peaks and dramatic effect, and that pushing your singers’ voices will make for an early retirement for them and loss of interest for everybody else. Evidentally thy have listened to too much At The Drive-In without learning any of their ingenuity or complexity. But, their bass-player knows how to hit a groove and lash out riffs, making a noise no three-piece should be capable of.

FLA were, as ever, funny and good natured, despite the violence of their songs, and they play the old songs with the same fervour and crazed energy they do the new. The band themselves have come a long, long way in the last few years – and have apparently concentrated most on developing their already-strong live performance and crowd-control techniques – mostly whipping them into a frenzy. They are more powerful, more wild, and just a little more controlled. However, with this has come a certain complacency: when you know that you will get a screaming reaction no matter what you do, you tend to hold back. MayKay, while putting so much more effort into her crowd interaction than in their early days, is nonetheless putting less into her own performance. The screaming aggression and sudden crying breaks from the slightly introverted – dare I say girlish? – norm is being lost, and slowly making the Fight Like Apes show more ordinary. Nevertheless, judging by last night’s show, Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion should prove to be one of the best Irish albums of this year.

Anna Murray

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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).