The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Gig Reviews

14

Oxegen 2008, Day 3 (live in Punchestown)

Roisin Murphy liveReview Snapshot: What could have been a great end to a festival turned out to be a rollercoaster of a day, with a lifeless finish that was not worth the wait. (Check out as well CLUAS.com's coverage of Day 1 and Day 2 of Oxegen 2008).

The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10

Full Review:
Sunday is allegedly a day of rest, but with the sun really shining for the first time in months, I made my way once again to Punchestown for the final day of Oxegen 2008. 

Fighting With Wire (IMRO New Sounds Stage)
It was fitting that a day that was due to end with pure unadulterated rock, started out the same way.  Fighting With Wire hail from Derry and their Man Vs Monster album made its way into my ears through a friend quite recently.  Liking the cut of their jib, I made my way to the IMRO tent for their early afternoon performance.  The tent was packed to capacity but, once again, the sound was awful, vastly inferior to every other stage.  That being said, the kind of noise these kids make doesn't need great sound quality and it was the perfect pick up for a day that had started very slowly (I blame the parking attendants!).

We Are Scientists (O2 Stage)
'I'd like to dedicate this song to my homies at the BAR BAR ID, where everyone truly does know your name' was just one of the surreal ramblings from We Are Scientists frontman, Keith Murray.  It was clear that the band were enjoying themselves in the Irish sun and it paid off in one of the most entertaining sets of the weekend.  The majority of songs were taken from the bands debut, With Love and Squalor, but recent single After Hours was also very well received.  You do have to wonder though about the sobriety of the people who agreed that the only reason they got into music in the first place was because of We Are Scientists.

Alabama 3 (Green Room)
Having made it my mission to see a band on every stage on the final day, I made my way into a rather full Green Room to catch Alabama 3 in the middle of their set.  The Brixton band, who still don't seem to have shaken off their tag of being 'that band with that song from the TV' had a rather large audience totally captivated.  Honestly though, their blend of what can only be described as a gospel/funk/soul/jazz, wasn't really to my taste.  Having three lead vocalists who don't contribute on the instrument side of things seems a little indulgent to me.

Kate Nash (O2 Stage)
While everyone else at Oxegen attended MGMT I bowed to pressure from my prettier plus one (who, in fairness, had to endure my whims all weekend) to go see Kate Nash.  Nash is a strange phenomenon.  There's talent there, that's without question, but she suffers from being thrown into the same 'mockney' bracket as Lily Allen and Jack Penate.  Supported by an excellent backing band, Nash rushed through songs from her debut Made of Bricks with very little audience interaction.  The biggest cheer of the set was reserved for Foundations which sparked a mass sing-along amongst the assembled teenage girls.  Kudos to Nash for having the best stage set-up of the weekend too.

Republic of Loose (O2 Stage)
'I hear it's going to be P-Diddy!'  'No man, it's definitely going to be Jay-Z.'  Such were the rumours spreading around the 02 stage as news filtered through that a huge, internationally known, hip-hop/rap star would be supporting the Loose in their rendition of I like Music (or Moo-zic as Mr. Pyro is want to sing it).  As it turns out, Styles P was the man in question but he added little to the set as Pyro already had the crowd enthralled with his charismatic stage presence.  Say what you like about their music, and I'm not a fan, but in Pyro Republic of Loose have one of Ireland's great entertainers and he made this one of the most enjoyable performances of the weekend.

Fight Like Apes (2FM New Band Stage)
So good were the Loose that I, along with an awful lot of other people, missed the start of Fight Like Apes.  I've often given this band a hard time as, previously, the hype surrounding them far exceeded their talents.  The gap is narrowing mind and this was as energetic a performance as you're likely to see.  In no other band could the keyboard player attack the lead singer, throwing her to the ground, and have the audience cheer him for it.  New single Something Global sounds amazing live but the biggest cheers were reserved for Lend me your Face and Do you Karate?  Fight Like Apes may be about to live up to their billing as the great white hope of Irish music.

Roisin Murphy (Pet Sounds)
This was, undoubtedly, the most surprising performance of the weekend.  I was expecting some backing tracks, a nice light show and Murphy miming along to her own lyrics.  Whatever, it was sure to be better than The Pogues or the Kaiser Chiefs.  I couldn't have been more wrong though (about the first part that is).  Focusing almost exclusively on tracks from the Choice nominated Overpowered album, Murphy wowed the mostly female audience with an energetic performance ably supported by a backing band that matched the quality of that album.  Now fewer than 6 costume changes later and Murphy was inviting us all back to party with her in 'Wickla', betraying her rural roots for the first time.  Well worth seeing again, though she does have the dubious honour of being the only act to refer to Punchestown as Dublin over the weekend. 

Rage Against the Machine (Main Stage)
Some of us have deadlines you know.  RATM obviously didn't consider this when they decided to start their set over 20 minutes late, by which time they'd lost a sizeable number of people to The Chemical Brothers light and sound spectacular over on the O2 stage.  Unperturbed, the band arrived on stage to Zack De La Rocha's simple words: 'Good evening. We are Rage Against The Machine and we are from Los Angeles', and launched into Testify.  Tom Morello made his guitar look like a child's toy, such is his capacity with the instrument, especially on Bulls on Parade.  The audience 'moshed' their drunken little hearts out for Bullet in the Head, while closing tracks Freedom and Killing in the Name were no doubt thrown in to ensure the audience went home happy.  I didn't however, as I found RATM to be at best, lifeless and at worst, disinterested.  Something about the main stage this weekend just drew the life out of some of my favourite acts and RATM were no different.  I knew I should have gone to The Chemical Brothers.

Steven O'Rourke

  • Check out as well CLUAS.com's coverage of Day 1 and Day 2 of Oxegen 2008.

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13

Review of the first day of Oxegen 2008

Oxegen 2008, festival review Review Snapshot:  Day 1 of Oxegen 2008 was a mix of the good, the bad, and the tuneless. (Check out as well CLUAS.com's coverage of Day 2 and Day 3 of Oxegen 2008).

The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10

Full Review: A festival is a difficult place for a humble gig reviewer.  So many acts, so little time and the weather can play an important role in what bands you end up seeing.  The weather forecast was gloomy but the sun shone as the first bands took to their respective stages and Oxegen 2008 began in earnest.

Future Kings of Spain (The O2 Stage)
A larger than expected crowd took advantage of a rare glimpse of sunshine to see the Future Kings of Spain.  They were rewarded with a storming set that was bookended by Guess Again and Syndicate, both taken from the bands most recent album Nervousystem.  It was interesting to see a band I've followed in smaller venues play such a big stage.  The sound quality was better than expected for a festival and the only complaint I could have was the carry over of sound from other stages between songs.

Battles (Pet Sounds)
After the recent review of Battles that caused such a stir on CLUAS, I just had to check them out.  Apparently everyone else at Oxegen did too as the Pet Sounds tent was full to capacity.  Battles are a curious lot, it's dance music for people who don't like dance music and experimental, instrumental indie rock for people who don't like experimental, instrumental indie rock.  I'm afraid I have to agree with the last two reviews of Battles on CLUAS and say I was more bored than overawed.  The people taking ecstasy in front of me seemed to enjoy it though, maybe that's the secret? 

Bryn Christopher (2FM New Band Stage)
At every festival you find an act you had no intention of seeing but stumble across by mistake and end up really enjoying.  It's hard to put a tag on the sort of music Christopher and his band make. It's a blend of funky pop all beautifully complimented by Christopher's wonderful voice.  Definitely one to check out in the future.

Editors (Main Stage)
When I first saw the line up, I was very surprised to see Editors and Interpol side by side on the main stage as they are, well, essentially the same band.  However, quite a large crowd braved the intermittent rain to check out Editors blend of sub-Joy Division indie pop.  Songs such as An End Has A Start and new single Push Your Head Towards the Air were well received by a crowd who were clearly starting to 'enjoy' themselves more and more.  For me, it was all very dull and the band seemed a little bored and it showed in their performance.

The Metros (2FM New Band Stage)
I'll be honest, I only came into the 2fm stage to avoid the rain.  The highlight of the next 40 minutes was watching the stewards throw RedBull Cola over a kissing couple to separate them, in much the same way people throw water over mating dogs.  The music?  A bland, generic Specials tribute.

Interpol (Main Stage)
The best I can say about Interpol is that they were slightly more animated than the last time I watched them.  They weren't much better however and, despite rousing performances of Evil and Mammoth, they failed to engage a crowd who, like myself, looked sorry they hadn't gone to see the Go! Team.

Kings of Leon (Main Stage)
I'm often criticised for saying - with tongue firmly in cheek - that I prefer bands earlier stuff.  It's a standing joke, but it has some truth when it comes to the Kings of Leon.  Their success over the past couple of years, especially on these shores, has been nothing short of phenomenal.  For me, KoL have never reached the heights of Youth and Young Manhood.  Therefore, Molly's Chambers was the highlight of my evening but everyone else seemed to enjoy a set that consisted mainly of songs from Aha Shake Heartbreak and Because of the Times.  For me though, Kings of Leon haven't been the same since Caleb Followill shaved his beard and cut his hair.

Steven O'Rourke

  • Check out as well CLUAS.com's coverage of Day 2 and Day 3 of Oxegen 2008.

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13

Oxegen Day 2 (live in Punchestown, Co. Kildare)

Oxegen Festival PunchestownReview Snapshot: The weatherman promised us a day full of sunshine, one where we would need our sun-cream as opposed to our wellies.  He was wrong, but then again, that's not surprising.  It wasn't so bad though as it meant I had to spend most of the day in the tent stages, where some sparkling performances shone brighter than any sun. (Check out as well CLUAS.com's coverage of Day 1 and Day 3 of Oxegen 2008).

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
Concerto For Constantine (Green Room)
How is it possible for three people to make so much noise, so early in the day?  Concerto for Constantine have evolved from being JJ72 part two into a band that's so much more comfortable in it's own skin.  They (being the veritable supergroup of ex JJ72 frontman Mark Greaney, Idlewild’s Gavin Fox and Binzer of The Frames and Bell X1 fame) have a presence on stage that leaves you feeling you are watching a band destined for greatness.  It's a pity more people didn't turn up to see them, because they were the highlight of the weekend for me.

Delays / Brian Jonestown Massacre (Green Room)
My craving for an organic tofu burger (CLUAS verdict: 9 out of 10) resulted in me missing all but the last two Delays songs.  Mores the pity, their energetic performance had the large crowd dancing and singing.  The same could not be said for the Brian Jonestown Massacre.  Don't get me wrong, they were excellent, but coming on 10 minutes late, and constant problems with equipment resulted in more people leaving than entering the tent to see who was on.  A very entertaining band nonetheless and possibly deserving of a bigger stage.

The Ting Tings  (Green Room)
Wow.  Now here's a sound that's going to get old fast.  I'm sure at this stage you know the basic premise for The Ting Tings, a drummer and a female vocalist who sometimes plays guitar.  You wouldn't think it would take 35 minutes to soundcheck them would it?  It did and in that time the Green Room filled beyond capacity (helped by the downpour outside) and people were forced to watch/listen from outside.  It certainly wasn't worth it.  This band are so incredibly limited that they struggle to justify their own existence.  Aside from some catchy singles there really is no substance to this band.

Counting Crows (Main Stage)
Dishevelled, out of time and generally rubbish.  I thought I'd be writing those words about Amy Winehouse, but the prize for performance enhancing set of the weekend goes to the Counting Crows.  I can't begin to describe how bad they were.

Holy Fuck (2FM New Band Stage)
I'll be honest, I only went to Holy Fuck for the opportunity to tell people I was going to see Holy Fuck.  However, I was rewarded with a set that put Battles performance of the previous day to shame.  Holy Fuck are their keyboards and they make instrumental music they way I should be, catchy, engaging and with room for improvisation, unlike Battles brand of cold, music by maths.

Vampire Weekend (Green Room)
An incredible performance by New York's current greatest export.  I wasn't there for Arcade Fire's now legendary set at Electric Picnic, but having witnessed this it's not difficult to imagine.  This band have perfected the art of crowd interaction and audience participation and the result is a performance that allows the joy of their eponymous record to translate quite easily to the live arena.  If any band this weekend was deserving of a bigger stage this weekend it was Vampire Weekend. 

Seasick Steve (Pet Sounds stage)
How can someone with a box and a three string guitar generate such a crowd?  Chants of 'Seasick Steve, Seasick Steve' rang around the Pet Sounds tent for a full ten minutes before his performance.  It was a raucous performance that left the crowd begging for more.  It's just a pity I couldn't understand a word he was saying.  That being said, his blend of hillbilly rock speaks for itself.  A great performance.

CODES (IMRO New Sounds Stage)
Having spent so long singing this band's praises, and indeed telling everyone who asked (and some who didn't) where to be at 9.15 meant I was probably as nervous about CODES performance as the band themselves.  I really believe CODES are one of Ireland's best bands but the sound quality in the IMRO tent was so below par that it didn't do the band justice.  Unless you knew the words of the songs, it was very difficult to hear anything frontman Daragh Anderson was saying.  The songs are there, the performance is there, it's just a pity the arena let them down.

Hot Chip (Pet Sounds stage)
A great way to end the evening.  The best review I can give of Hot Chip is that they had me dancing, which is some achievement considering I was sober.  A very mixed crowd, some of whom actually thought they were at the Chemical Brothers, were treated to a set that consisted mostly of tracks from the bands Made in the Dark record.  They finished the evening with a surprise cover of 'Nothing Compares to You'. Hot Chip - a band I would love to see in a more intimate venue.

Steven O'Rourke

  • Check out as well CLUAS.com's coverage of Day 1 and Day 3 of Oxegen 2008.

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08

CODES (live in The Academy, Dublin)

Review Snapshot:  CODES have once again proven themselves to be one of Ireland's finest live acts on a night that ended all too soon.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
When you have to virtually swim to a gig during the first weekend of July you realise two things; one, you should probably find somewhere else to live and two, you must really like the band you're going to see.  Codes LiveHowever, sometimes a band can be so good they stop you from packing your suitcase and instead provide you with a shelter so satisfying you can ignore the odd storm.

Opening the proceedings were Tidal District, an appropriate name given the monsoon like conditions that swept Dublin on Saturday night.  Unfortunately for the band, the venue was virtually empty at this stage, with less than twenty people in a room capable of holding 30 or 40 times that amount. Unperturbed, Tidal District entertained those of us who had ventured in early with a complex melodies and a strong rhythm section, all nicely complimented by the vocal jousting of Gary Donald and Noel Duplaa.  It worked well for the most part but their style of song structure (soft, loud, soft, loud, chant, loud, end) waivers perilously close to becoming repetitive.  That being said, giving it your all in front of such a small crowd deserves plenty of kudos.

Thankfully, the audience numbers had increased significantly by the time CODES appeared on stage.  By blasting into their set with the anthemic This is Goodbye and Guided by Ghosts the band ensured the audience would be nothing but captivated.  Our Mysteries, Memorial and Edith were all complimented by excellent lighting work and the sound in The Academy continues to impress. 

It is difficult to describe CODES in terms of other Irish bands because there is nobody like them.  The more I see of the band, the more I'm convinced that they are a band destined for greatness and deserve to perform to venues much bigger than The Academy.  It's the kind of music that summer festivals and stadium venues were designed for; grandiose sonic landscapes painted in painstakingly minute detail.

In fact, the only fault I could find with the entire gig was that it was all over by 10.30.  Yes, 10.30 on a Saturday night when surely there are no curfews in place?  It's becoming a more common feature of Irish gigs and is a worrying trend for those of us who like our music to drift into the early hours of the morning.  However, it's hard to fault CODES for this as I'm sure it was a decision by the venue. 

Overall, a good gig was only slightly tainted by such an early finish.  If there is any justice in the world, CODES will be the big Irish winners at this weekends Oxegen festival.  If you're going, be sure to check them out.

Steven O'Rourke


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23

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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17

Metronomy (live in Andrew's Lane Theatre, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: As it turns out, Sunday evening in town was dead. Due to a ghostly combination of rain, bleak wintery weather and possibly it just being Sunday, Metronomy attracted a small crowd. The result was disappointing.

The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10

Metronomy LiveFull Review:
Sunday evening in town was spookily quiet. When we arrived at Andrew's Lane Theatre punctually at 11pm, the lights were on and nobody was home. There were a couple of organisers standing around and when I mentioned I was on the guest-list they didn't even need to consult a list: 'Sure, yep, grand... but come back later, sound check is on now.'

Eek.

Funny vibes from the beginning. When we finally arrived back after 12pm, David Kitt's new project 'Spilly Walker' was bopping about onstage, playing to an almost empty venue. There were about twenty people sitting around. The act was somewhat akin to the new singer-songwriter type: basically an acoustic-based musician who has just discovered their laptop. This fad must end soon (I hope). There's something almost archaic about it: it feels that even though they're trying to go forward with technology it holds back real talent. I mean, how much can you clap for a one-man show with a machine? There might be someone out there who sees Spilly Walker as the next step for singer-songwriters, but to me it came across as stilted and dull.

In fact, the most exciting part of that support slot was the group who were throwing around those multicoloured bouncing balls you used to get in 20p machines outside sweet shops.

When Metronomy came on, the crowd swelled a little and in fairness they really danced like maniacs, despite there being so few people there. I just expected Joseph Mount to be onstage (the solo laptop affair again) but he was joined by musicians Gabriel Stebbing and Oscar Cash. The three of them performed Kraftwerk style dancing with their keyboards, and really got involved for 'Radio Ladio'. For me, it seemed more Kraftwank than Kraftwerk - it felt too much like a re-hash of something that's been done so many times before.

If you have ever been in a Euro shop frantically purchasing cheapo products for festivals, you may have spotted round lights that look like Mentos mints. Metronomy hung these around their necks against black tee-shirts and flicked them on and off at various points during the tracks. The act was a bit too gimmicky for me - it may have been effective in a larger venue but because the venue was so small, the lighting didn't really cut it. However it was a bit of fun and the lit-up guitars were pretty funky too. Again if there had been a larger crowd or a larger venue the effect would have looked a lot more exciting onstage.

Metronomy played a couple of their new tracks including 'Holiday', and the effects were quirky and upbeat. They also turned out some of the delightful circus-style music from 'Pip Paine.' The final track 'You Could Easily Have Me' was definitely the most energetic and bringing the electric guitars into the whole thing woke everyone up.

As Metronomy is one of my favourite artists, I was shocked at the small turn-out and equally astonished that the gig was a disappointment. The small crowd really gave it all they could though and Joseph Mount ended the gig by calling it 'a perfect ending to a perfect day.'

Awww. You can't get a sweeter ending than that.

Niamh Madden


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17

Dan Deacon and Jape (live in Vicar Street, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Anyone in Vicar Street for last Saturday's Future Days Festival was in for a treat: Deerhunter, Dan Deacon, White Williams and Jape were all outstanding. Jape was somewhat of an anti-climax after Dan Deacon (who should have headlined), but the love at the venue was massive and the buzz after Dan was sweaty, electric, otherworldly. 

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Dan Deacon LiveFull Review:
It was strange being at Vicar Street so early. The venue was close to empty when Brooklyn duo High Places came onstage. The gig warmed up slowly with a couple of curious onlookers nodding their heads to the beats. Though High Places knocked out a couple of wickedly intense tribal percussion pieces, the pair just didn't have enough charisma to warrant looking at. Ping-pong ball noises, shaky and scratchy erratic beats led into a more ambient Buddhist lounge style; Mary Pearson's vocals however sounded flat and she held a faraway look throughout the performance, as if trying to determine whether or not she'd left the iron on.

Remember those Mini Melodicas you had when you were growing up, before you realised that rockstars don't play instruments that are rainbow-coloured? Well it seems that at almost every gig I've been to lately, a band has played said instrument with renewed childhood gusto. White Williams did this, as well as mixing some funky electro indie with a more 90s sound and look (lumberjack shirts included). Some tunes had lots of alien synth effects while heavier, rockier tracks were purely for a crowd that the lead singer hoped were 'ready to mosh'.

When Deerhunter came on they exceeded all expectations. The crowd began to pick up the pace. Head-nodding turned into springing, springing turned into light jumping and dancing. The band mashed loud distorted sounds with a fiery harmonica on the stand-out track. They played a kind of old-school tingly rock with moments of euphoria, frenetic drumming, and fragments of stillness. When they finished the crowd was happy, shiny, loved up, anticipating Mr. Deacon - who of course had been wandering around the crowd chatting with everyone, smiling and generally just looking contented.

Everything about Dan Deacon is big. Big shorts, big glasses, big presence, big sound, big happy smile. And when the venue went pitch black for Dan, the crowd got bigger too. Everyone was close to bursting with excitement - you could almost feel everyone's hearts open. Dan Deacon doesn't do stages. He plays amongst the crowd, and has a light that he shines over the fans as he makes them do whatever he asks - at the beginning of the gig he told us all to 'Shut up! Shut up! You, shut up too!' Brilliant. We were then asked to raise our hands, form fists, point in the air and sink to our knees. The first track came on as we got up. Dan's trippy green skull was at the centre stage and flashed on and off as the crowd began moshing, hugging, crowd-surfing, going insane. It's been too long since gigs were like this; it makes you wonder where the whole nod-heading, thigh-tapping, style of gigs has come from. 'The Crystal Cat' made everyone go nuts. Dan made us form a huge circle around a wee spectacled boy in a Superman tee-shirt. 'Superman is gonna high-five everyone,' Dan told us. Every time you got a high five you had to run around in a circle high-fiving as many people as you could for them to join the circle. Just picture an entire crowd running around Vicar Street in a circle. For 'Snake Mistakes' we had to run through a line of people forming arches with their hands clasped together in the air. Everyone was smiling. Everyone joined in. When 'Wham City' came on people were completely at one with each other and the entire venue felt soaked with a kind of insane, sweaty, psychedelic love. The only negative thing about the performance was that Dan didn't play last.

When Jape took to the stage, the energy level was still up, but not quite as crazy. Richie Egan did look as though he were slightly off his face, but he put in a powerful, fun performance and was like a bubble of energy onstage. The crowd-surfing continued. Some of the tracks from the new album didn't sound as polished as they could have, but the crowd didn't care at that point. The final track had everyone dancing, bouncing, exploding. After the gig there was a buzz in the crowd that I haven't felt for a long time, and a sense that everyone had experienced the craziness of Dan Deacon. There's also something curiously close about sweat that seems to bind folks together.

Niamh Madden


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09

Plaid (live in Crawdaddy, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: More dubstep than Double Figure, Plaid knocked out a short and surprising set. There were two schools of thought: the Disappointed (discussing the performance in the smoking area) and the Dancers (who made up the electric crowd in the venue). As a disappointed dancer, the gig lay somewhere in between for me...

The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10

Plaid liveFull Review:
Support act Sunken Foal opened the night of electronica. Featuring one half of Ambulance (Duncan Murphy), the duo soaked the venue with eerie church bells and sustained apocalyptic sounds. Imagine the haunting, sweeping discords of the Radiohead's Morning Bell/Amnesiac infused with deep synths that sound like bullfrogs - and you've almost got Sunken Foal. They drifted from darkness to more euphoric moments of harmony, and brought the crowd on an emotional journey with them. As my companion said to me of their sound, 'Oh my God. It's like Kermit on crack.'

And there were dancers. Funky, nutty, crunk-esque: watching them became more exciting than watching two guys twiddling knobs and clicking keyboards. There was the girl with twisty, staccato hip grooves; the red-bearded man doing the 6-step, and a smily Asian guy who swung his arms around like a schoolboy.

Plaid took to the stage and continued with the bell-like sound of Sunken Foal. The initial noises reminded me of a horror movie, and when the bass kicked in, it kicked in HARD. When you can feel the bass throbbing in your throat and shooting up and down your spine, you know it's just that little bit too loud. At times I liked the pain; other times I felt middle-aged ('Lord. It's shockin' loud isn't it?') The real disappointment was that the Plaid gig lacked visuals. This wouldn't be a problem if the two performers performed, but there was no action onstage at all - in fact the stage felt shockingly empty and boring. There are other rooms in Tripod that cater for this - but seeing Plaid up onstage - serious, dull, looking not dissimilar to two IT guys trying to fix some ill-behaving Macs - made you wonder where to look. The sound was filling, penetrating, disturbing, but without visuals it didn't make as much of an impact as it could have.

Unsurprisingly, the crowd consisted of the usual eighty-percent male electronica heads. This was grand for me and my female companion until we tried to move anywhere. We were frequently accosted by aforementioned men, which became an irritating distraction to the music. One man even tried to impress me by shouting spoken word lyrics in my ear while Plaid were dropping some serious breakcore.

What I was expecting from the night were the ambient subtleties of Double Figure: what we got instead was industrial, dark and almost frightening with noise. I remember feeling at one point that the entire crowd may have all been descending into some deep apocalypse of sound; and being dragged down to that was almost like a slow and expected death. Which of course, some people liked. The crowd were incredibly responsive - going out for a breather was a different story. Lots of people in the smoking area seemed disappointed in the music choice. 'I mean, they went dubstep on my ass!' one girl exclaimed. Though I'm a fan of dubstep, it just didn't do it for me at this gig.

I suppose the old maxim of having no expectations can be a good thing - at this gig I feel as though I came away with no sense of growth or enlightenment. My question is: Did anyone who enjoyed this gig more than me tap into something I didn't?

Niamh Madden


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05

Bon Iver (live in Tripod, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Bon Iver played a short, but sublime set in Tripod. They took the record 'For Emma, Forever Ago', to another level, adding layers and new sounds to it, whilst retaining the beauty that has made it the great album it is.

The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10

Full Review:
Over the winter of 2006-7 Justin Vernon retreated to a remote cabin in Wisconsin. It was in this isolated sanctuary that he recorded nearly all of what was to become ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’. The record is a quiet masterpiece and there was a massive air of anticipation before this gig.

This Sound Track gig was due to take place next door at Crawdaddy, but it was moved to Tripod at the last minute for a seated gig. Support came from James McMorrow and Get Well Soon. McMorrow is a local lad. His performance was decent, if a bit too influenced by Ray Lamontagne. Get Well Soon is a 7 piece with members from Germany and Ireland. With a horn section and a girl bashing cymbals they try to be quirky and original. Instead they are boring and repetitive.

Live, Bon Iver is a three piece. Justin Vernon is joined by Sean Carey on drums and his former music student, Mike Noyce, on baritone guitar. There had been an announcement before the gig to keep noise to a minimum due to the quiet nature of Bon Iver’s music. For the most part though, this request was needless. They are so much louder live. They use the extra guitar and drums to build beautiful walls of sound to elevate songs such as ‘Flume’ and ‘For Emma’

While the massive fantastic codas they played were great, the highlights of the gig were in the quieter moments. ‘Skinny Love’ is my favourite song off the album, and possibly my favourite song of the year so far. Live, the drums were louder and more urgent, making the song more forceful. At one stage I just closed my eyes, and let the music take me over, not allowing anything distract me from it. Wonderful. After a solo rendition of ‘Re: Stacks’, they ended on ‘For Emma’. It was perfect.

Apologising for the brevity of the show, Vernon admitted that they simply did not know any other songs. A shout from the crowd suggested that he should just play them again. After a thoughtful pause, he replied that it would probably be too weird. Perhaps it would have been “weird”, but I’m sure that no-one would have objected. Support act, James McMorrow, put it excellently when he said that the music of Bon Iver was “beauty for the sake of beauty… for the sake of art.”

Garret Cleland


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05

Spiritualized (live in Tripod, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Saints or stoners  - you decide- a rejuvinated Spiritualized storm the Tripod with a set of old, rather obscure, favourites and tasters from their new album. With Jason Pierce looking merely heavily tubercular rather than close to death, the band in its current state is working a minor storm and its back catologue gets better and better with time.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:Spiritualized - Live in Tripod, Dublin

A Wednesday in early May and I’m talking to a neighbour. "I’m going to a gig." "Who?" "Spiritualized – Jason Pierce, the singer, has nearly died, like loads of times, he never made a penny from any of his records but he’s a genius, he does this atonal drone thing, there’s feedback, and one minute he’s all gospel, the next he’s a screaming junkie, you should see him, he looks like death warmed up. Like, literally."

"Great- we’re going to a gig to – Boyzone in Belfast, I can’t wait, a girl’s night out. "

Two weeks, three hours and twenty minutes later and Pure Phase is pumped through the speakers as an intro – it’s a synth thing from Electric Mainline and while it’s a simple single note call and response, like much of what Spiritualized do it’s effective and affecting. Jason Pierce himself looks unwell, as opposed to looking close to his last breath – last time I saw him he sat down through the entire show but tonight he’s moving unassisted. The band open with one of Songs From A&E’s lesser cuts, You Lie, You Cheat and basically set it on fire. On the album it’s an under produced filler but here it’s full of bile, madness, sadness and utterly controlled anger. The band leave the song behind and morph into a guitar driven wig out, a stinking, spitting beast of a thing, and just when you think your heart will explode in a millisecond, the band go from a blizzard of feedback to Shine a Light, one of the quietest and most serene pieces the band have recorded.

This gig is ostensibly a showcase for Songs From A&E, the new album, but it’s typical of Pierce’s cussedness that Spiritualized only play two or three of the new songs- the single, Soul on Fire, won’t sell a copy but it’s close to perfection, full of real emotion and power.  Pierce also dips into Amazing Grace, one of the band’s less impressive albums for a pumped up Lord let it Rain on Me, a ripping Cheapster and a gorgeous Oh Baby. The encore just about sums up the band’s inherent contradictions, with a calculating take on Come Together, a stoner’s anthem, followed by a stunning evangelical Take Me to the Other Side. It’s a case of hymns taking on heroin but it works.

Throughout the show Doggen, the lead guitarist, more or less spars with Pierce, making sounds a guitar should never make, the coloured girls go "doo doo doo doo", and hardly a note is wasted.

Life is made up of moments, some good, some bad, some dreary – Spiritualized are contradictory, maddening and self indulgent but they have given me more spellbinding moments than most. Pierce, these days, is for him relatively robust and has a fantastic bunch of musicians around him and a back catalogue to die for. See Spiritualized if you can –and soon.

Anthony Morrissey


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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).