The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Slint (live in The Tripod, Dublin)

SlintReview Snapshot: While The Rolling Stones roll out the hits yet again in Slane, down the road in Dublin’s wonderful Tripod venue, Slint, also trading on past glories (but in a good way), take to the stage to play one of most important and influential alternative-rock albums of all time. Welcome to Spiderland.

The CLUAS Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full review:
Back in 1991, while Madchester reigned in the UK and Kurt Cobain was changing the course of rock history in the US, four young men from Louisville, Kentucky were quietly putting together a suite of six songs that would become the seminal ‘Spiderland’. With this album they inadvertently laid down the blueprint for what would become ‘post-rock’ with bands like Sigur Ros and especially Mogwai using this album as a creative touchstone for their own output.It is a collection of dark yet highly cerebral songs that didn’t fit in with the plaid-shirted brigade up in Washington State. Whereas grunge was about unleashing all your pent-up emotions and repressed anger, ‘Spiderland’ was about making you think. It has a subtlety and a self-awareness that has resulted in its still sounding so fresh in 2007.

And it is in 2007 that Slint have decided to play the album in full as a part of All-Tomorrow’s Parties programme, and thankfully Dublin is part of the itinerary. They amble onstage with little fanfare; in fact such a low-key entrance is it that most in the audience believe they are part of the crew doing a few last minute checks. But, yes, it is Slint and without a hello or even a glance in our direction (shouts for a new album are met with stony silence), they launch into ‘Breadcrumb Trail’ and over the course of the next hour or so they play the album in its entirety.

On the extreme left of stage, guitarist/‘vocalist’ Brian McMahan quietly narrates over the music, recounting tales of troubled souls in the darklands of America. David Pajo, still looking about 24, unleashes his clean and powerful guitar configurations while Britt Walford is hidden behind his drumkit, working hard keeping time as his band’s mercurial music swoops and swirls around him. On the last track, ‘Good Morning, Captain’ they counterbalance the many subdued moments of before with large chunks of guitar-driven intensity.

After playing the album in sequence, they fill out the set with some non-Spiderland material and a possible new song at the very end. And with that they are gone, uncommunicative and glacially serious to the last, their legacy undamaged and enigma intact.

Ken Fallon

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Nuggets from our archive

2004 - The CLUAS Reviews of Erin McKeown's album 'Grand'. There was the positive review of the album (by Cormac Looney) and the entertainingly negative review (by Jules Jackson). These two reviews being the finest manifestations of what became affectionately known, around these parts at least, as the 'McKeown wars'.