The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Ham Sandwich (live in The Button Factory, Dublin)

Review Snapshot:  It's easy to make food related puns/jokes when you're a vegetarian reviewing a Ham Sandwich gig, but I shall make just this one by way of summary.  If Codes and Ham Sandwich were the sonically delicious pieces of bread, The Kinetiks were the slightly out of date cheese in the middle.

The Cluas Verdict?  8.5 out of 10

Full Review:
I was wet, I was miserable and I was sulking.  I'd spent all day trudging through the monsoon like conditions that swept Dublin searching for a book that everyone told me didn't exist (An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England if anyone knows where I can get a non-online copy).  Ham Sandwich LiveMy motivation for heading back into town was low to non-existent.  But something (known more commonly as my wife) convinced me that it would be worth it.  It was.

Opening the night were Codes, a Dublin band that specialise in painting musical soundscapes.  Their fiercely catchy synth and keys driven cake is topped by the icing that is Daragh Anderson's vocals.  Experiencing Codes live is the musical equivalent of waking up in some inter-dimensional vortex where you visualise sounds and hear colours.  Songs such as This is Goodbye and Cities are so insanely epic in both ambition and, more importantly, realisation that if all were fair in the world; Codes would easily be filling stadiums recently vacated by little men in purple suits.  A band with potential and ability in equal measure, theirs was a performance that was to go unsurpassed on the evening.

Unfortunately, setting the bar so high could only mean a long fall for The Kinetiks.  The best (and maybe worst) review I can give of The Kinetiks is that they weren't even that bad, it was just so formulaic though that it felt at times as if they were created in a lab in the basement of the NME.  Opening with their best song (Bite the Bullet), which only lasts two and a half minutes anyway, was always going to leave the band threading water.  What followed was a procession of dull-white-boy-skinny-jeans-look-at-my-haircut-indie-pop tracks that made me wish I was standing back outside in the rain again.  Alex Turner has a great deal to answer for. 

The Ham Sandwich performance was a strange one.  Firstly, kudos to the band for fulfilling the date given that singer Niamh Farrell gave birth just two weeks ago.  However, as was mentioned more than once, the band are off to Glastonbury and this gig felt at times like a rehearsal for that event.  Almost all the material played was taken from the bands Carry the Meek album and was well received by a crowd who knew every word.  This is both a good and a bad thing.  It's always easier to enjoy a gig when you know the songs but it would have been nice to hear some new material thrown in as well.  That being said, the Material Girl cover was amazing and the band finished up with my personal favourite, Never Talk.

Overall, this was a rollercoaster of a gig that started in the stratosphere, crashed to earth but finished on a satisfying high.  For the most part, it would seem that the future of Irish music is in safe hands.

Steven O'Rourke

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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).