The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Máire Robinson'

09

Morrissey (live in Leisureland, Galway)

Review Snapshot: Great set, shame about the venue . . .

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 

Full Review: Morrissey

I am in ‘the coastal town that they forgot to shut down,’ trudging along a drizzly Salthill Promenade.  Welcoming lights beckon a few feet ahead.  They belong to Leisureland: swimming pool, fitness centre, off-season funfair park, and the venue for tonight’s Morrissey concert.  As I enter the grounds, I pass a heap of dismantled funfair ride equipment being rained on; perfect material for Morrissey.  Perhaps he’ll see it and write a song about it.  Heaven Knows These Waltzers Are RustyNow, or some such.  The entrance has an A4 sheet of paper tacked to it that reads, ‘Morrissy’.  Someone - a disgruntled fan perhaps - has used a biro to helpfully add the ‘e’. 

Inside, I am greeted by the welcoming aroma of chlorine.  I make my way past the ‘bar’, which is roughly the size of a hotel mini bar (a badly stocked one).  I find a good spot; close enough to the front to get a good view, but far enough away to avoid being trampled by Morrissey’s more hysterical fan boys.  The gig is yet to start, so I survey the empty stage.  The backdrop is a huge black and white image of a sailor, proudly brandishing his muscles, as he smokes a cigar that dangles from the corner of his mouth.  Great.  There is a giant gong on stage.  Brilliant.  I can see a shelf offstage, lined with a row of those enormous silver exercise balls.  Erm?  It begins to feel like the audience is part of some leisure centre Morrissey flash mob.  I look down, expecting to see a disgruntled pilates class squashed under our feet.  

Thankfully, when Morrissey appears on stage, he more than distracts us from our shoddy surroundings.  Nobody brandishes a tambourine quite like Morrissey and the way he manipulates a microphone flex is an art form in and of itself.  He trails it casually, intermittently whipping it behind him like a charismatic ring master.  He performs with a youthful vigour that convinces me there must be an ageing picture of Steven Patrick Morrissey hidden in some dusty attic.

Smiths fans are in their element as they are treated to several classics, including Ask, Some Girls AreBigger Than Others, and This Charming Man.  ‘For a Wednesday night, I suppose it’s not bad,’ drolls Morrissey, as the crowd cheers in a slightly manic fashion.  As he launches into How Soon Is Now? I begin to wonder if Morrissey gets bored, singing his hit songs from the 80’s night after night.  After a while, wouldn’t it start to feel like karaoke?  How does he keep it interesting for himself?  My question is answered by an incredible red strobe light sequence at the end of the song, which accompanies some frantic gong playing by one of Morrissey’s band members.  It is these details that add a whole new dimension to these familiar songs, elevating the show into a brave new audio-visual world.

The lights are worth singling out in particular.  (I haven’t seen such effective use of stage lighting since I saw MC Supernatural supporting Jurassic 5 back in 2001.)  The aforementioned sailor backdrop is intermittently drenched in yellow, green, red and blue light; or silhouettes of the band are cast onto it.  The lighting cues are timed perfectly to the music; many songs ending in a pleasingly dramatic fashion with an abrupt black out.  The one incidence of overkill occurs during Ask, when piercing yellow searchlights scan the crowd, as though trying to unearth the ‘buck-toothed girl’ from Luxemburg.  I have to cover my eyes with my hand until the song is over.  Shyness may be nice, but blindness is not. 

Songs from ‘You Are The Quarry’ are well received, among them, Irish Blood, English Heart, How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?, and First Of The Gang To Die.  The highlight is a particularly emotive rendition of Let Me Kiss You, with Morrissey ripping off his sweaty shirt and throwing it into the crowd during the line:

But then you look in my eyes

And you see someone

That you physically despise. 

But my heart is open,

My heart is open to you . . .

Before playing his new single, he addresses us politely: ‘May I lodge a complaint?  HMV in Galway refused to stock my new single.’  This is greeted with a chorus of pantomime boos and shouts of ‘Wankers!’ from the audience.  I can only presume the decision by HMV isn’t due to any particular anti-Morrissey sentiment – it’s certainly the catchiest song about anti-depressants I’ve ever heard - but rather a general decline in sales of singles. 

It is still raining as the crowd exits Leisureland, but nobody seems to care.  The sound of excited chatter fills the air; a sound generally reserved for contented concert-goers.  Not bad for a Wednesday night.  Not bad at all.              

Máire T. Robinson


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14

A review of the album 'Kill The Messenger' by Home Star Runner

Home Star Runner - Kill The MessengerReview Snapshot: This debut album will certainly please Home Star Runner’s loyal army of fans, but whether they can use this release to broaden their fanbase and enjoy mainstream success, remains to be seen.   .

The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10

Full Review:
‘Homestar runner’ are a four piece pop punk band, based in Dunboyne, Co. Meath. Following on from their well received ‘Close to Home’ EP comes their debut album, released on Blastspace records.  They’ve built up a loyal fanbase, over the past couple of years, by playing Blastspace all ages gigs with legendarily energetic live performances.

The energy of those live performances certainly sounds as though it’s been harnessed into the album, along with the influence of Jimmy eat World and ‘Greenday’.  In particular, Stephen Arkins lead vocals are reminiscent of Billie Joe Armstrong.

The first half of the album, although showcasing impressive musicianship, suffers from a lack of variety, with songs that quickly start to sound too similar.  ‘Pulp Friction (Skin)’ offers a welcome lighter, poppier diversion with a sound not unlike Blink 182 and the witty lyric, ‘I think I’m drunk enough to fall in love, tonight it’s me versus every guy in the room’.         

This is followed by the first single released from the album, ‘Photogenic’, which demonstrates the band’s pop sensibilities, whilst managing to maintain a punk edge.  However, for me, the standout track on the album is ‘The boy who saved the world’, with its imaginative use of strings and vocal harmonies.  If any of these tracks can offer the mainstream crossover and radioplay the band are presumably hoping for, then this could be the one.  Overall, a well produced debut album from the band.  Give it a listen, or even better, catch them live.   

Máire T. Robinson


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13

Mos Def (live in the Village, Dublin)

Mos DefReview Snapshot: With technical difficulties and a delayed start, Mos Def needed to win over the impatient crowd in a big way. Unfortunately, due to the patchy nature of his set, this didn't happen and ultimately made for a disappointing gig.

The Cluas Verdict? 4 out of 10

Full Review:
9pm: I've been standing here, waiting for Mos Def to arrive, for so long that I'm expecting three Mos Def's to come along at once. I am a sweaty member of an impatient crowd waiting for things to kick off. According to our tickets, the gig is from 8-11pm, so most of us arrived about an hour ago. Three hours seemed an unlikely duration for a hiphop gig, so I was expecting a support act or at least a DJ set before Mos Def's appearance. Instead, for the past hour they've been playing what sounds like a brass band/hip-hop mix-tape over the soundsystem. It was vaguely distracting for the first half an hour but now I'm trapped in an uncomfortable full-bladdered, cold drink-craving limbo; too afraid to leave my sardine tin position for fear the mighty Mos Def will finally emerge.

10pm: The crowd begins to vocalise its impatience. The initial murmurs of dissent build to a crescendo of booing, which spreads through the venue like a disgruntled mexican wave. I join in enthusiastically.

10.45: Finally, yes finally, Mos Def emerges, citing technical difficulties for the delay. (Actually I can't hear him very well but I presume that's what he said.) The crowd are surprisingly forgiving and the boos metamorphosise into welcoming cheers. It seems the audience are determind to enjoy the show now that it is finally underway.

The show begins and the biggest crowd-pleasers seem to be from Mos Def's acclaimed 1999 album, Black on both Sides. 'Mathematics' and 'Ms. Fat Booty' go down particularly well with the audience. After rambling on about his respect for fellow artist Madlib (who is apparently at the gig) for a bit, he also showcases a brand new track called 'Auditorium'. He either says that this was inspired by Madlib or a collaboration with Madlib, but given the seriously dodgy sound quality of the ill-fated Village, I can't make out which. There is also some old school material in the form of a track by BlackStar, his early collaboration with fellow hip-hop artist, Talib Kweli.

His performance of these tracks is energetic and the crowd is responsive. However the overall gig is far less than the sum of its parts, making it difficult to fully enjoy. The flow of the set is interrupted by random accapella warblings and intermittent DJ sets. Don't get me wrong, his DJ is playing some great tunes. Marvin Gaye's 'What's going on', for one, is a fantastic track. If I heard it on an average night out, I'd be more than happy. It's just that, after paying to see Mos Def, I was expecting to hear, well, Mos Def tracks. As though sensing the crowds' impatience, he lanches into a particularly stirring rendition of 'Umi says'. It is certainly a gig highlight, but coming so close to the end of the set, it is simply a case of too little, too late.

12.30: An unusually subdued audience obediently files out of The Village to the welcoming cool air outside. Expectations were high and due to problems with the quality of the venue and Mos Def's patchy performance, this gig simply failed to deliver. The general atmosphere on leaving the gig is one of resigned disappointment.

Máire T Robinson


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Nuggets from our archive

2005Michael Jackson: demon or demonised? Or both?, written by Aidan Curran. Four years on this is still a great read, especially in the light of his recent death. Indeed the day after Michael Jackson died the CLUAS website saw an immediate surge of traffic as thousands visited CLUAS.com to read this very article.