The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Gig Reviews

03

Mr. Scruff (live in the Black Box, Galway)

Review Snapshot: Galway city, June Bank Holiday weekend, a sky full of sun, a bottle of bucky, Mr. Scruff and a couple of friends; the winter is over, and life is good again.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:Mr. Scruff
Last time I saw Mr. Scruff was at the Tony Allen gig in Crawdaddy last year, but because of Mr Allen’s afrobeat sensation, and the free mojitos outside, I didn’t really get to see much Scruff. What I had seen, however, had been something fresh. As we sat in the bar about nine o’clock sipping our drinks, he was playing soft chill out, laid back beats perfect for the start of the night. When I came back in a couple of hours later, buzzing off the closest I will ever be to Fela Kuti, he was spinning funk, klezmer and afrobeat to a room full of the demented. Hot damn. This weekend I was looking forward to five hours of solo-scruff loving.

As a DJ, Mr. Scruff is damn impressive. The breadth of his musical palette is phenomenal, and he manages to own all genres. Not dipping in and out, with the ebb and flow of fashion, but appreciating them, owning them, and moulding them into his vision. From funk to reggae, trance to ambient, to soul and indie, nothing seems forced, nothing is quirky for quirkiness’ sake. The ability to keep a crowd in the palm of his hand for five plus hours, while building a set from chill out to full on hoolie… I guess its easy when you know how.

I’ve never been to the Black Box, and God knows what it would be like for a band, but for a DJ it is perfect: A huge cavernous space, plenty of room to throw yourself about, and cheap cans at the bar. For the black hole that the best sets can be, it couldn’t be better.

Something that got me about the night was the difference to a traditional gig. This was an all night show, much more like a club with great tunes than any live spectacle, and it was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time. I don’t know why, but it seems much easier to just turn off and enjoy without the visual attraction of a band to distract you. There were only two problems with the gig, some uncharacteristically dodgy visuals (Galway, Oranmore, Spanish Arch… eh a little lame?) and a virtual, and equally uncharacteristic absence of the funk.

They are minor quibbles though, and the set was so good, it is hard to nitpick. In fact the only let down came right at the end, in the overwhelming oddness of the last, encore, tune. After whipping the crowd into a mad trad-infused climaz, the encore was The Cure’s Love Cats, a great tune, sure, but not for the time and place.

Eclectic, enjoyable and ridiculously infectious, Mr. Scruff puts on one hell of a good show, and five hours of solid bogey is better than any gym.

Nice.

Very nice.

 Daragh Murray


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30

Times New Viking (live in Andrew's Lane Theatre, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Times New Viking played to small crowd on a Monday night. They gave it everything though. They were trashy, noisy and superb.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:

Times New Viking released their third album 'Rip It Off' to much fanfare in blogs and, most importantly, Pitchfork. Being signed to Matador had not caused them to change their sound away from their lofi home-recording beginnings on the Stillbreeze label. Instead 'Rip It Off' is like early Pavement going punkier. It's so noisy that it almost gives you a headache. Importantly though, it sounds great.

So, on Monday night they brought their noise to Ireland. It was my first time in the new Andrew's Lane Theatre. It is a decent well designed venue, even if the artwork on the wall makes the place seem as though it's screaming out to be accepted by the Dublin 'scene'.

The gig started with little ceremony. The 'roadies' just picked up their instruments, tuned up, and started playing. I had wondered how well they could translate the sound they create on record to their live performance. Would they have to employ an incompetent soundman? Whatever they did, they captured the sound of the album brilliantly. The vocals were drowned out and the music was fuzzy. It sounded great.

With each track clocking in around the 1-2 minute mark, they fitted 20 songs into their short set. Highlights were 'Teen Drama' and '(My Head)', but many were so indistinguishable behind the raucous noise that it was hard to tell which track they were playing! Regardless of that, it was fast and it was fun.

After just 40 minutes, it was over. Drummer Adam Elliott headed outside for a smoke with the fans, while Beth sat on the stage talking to the fans. The guitarist just stood on stage and finished off the bottle of Jameson that the 3 of them had made impressive progress on during the gig.

There was no pomp about this band. There was no showmanship.There were no frills. They came on stage, made wonderful noise and left. And that's what Times New Viking are all about.

Garret Cleland


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28

Midnight Juggernauts (live in Crawdaddy, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Midnight Juggernauts shocked the crowd's systems with overwhelming spacey sounds that were smothered with starry synth and disco beats. In short, amazing. But support group Late of The Pier upstaged them: their flamboyant, dramatic dancing set the night up for more than just yer usual gig...

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Midnight JuggernautsFull Review:
When you wake up with a creak in your neck from dancing, you know that last night's gig was good. The evening began with a small boy at the foot of the stage, dressed in what can only be described as a batwinged jacket fashioned out of golden tinfoil. The boy (okay, he may have been about nineteen...) approached my friend LJ, announced 'I have a maraca', shook said maraca, and then jumped onto the stage like some kind of wonderboy athlete on stilts. It was then that I realised the boy (dare I say, young lad?) was part of the act - he started playing one of the four synths onstage and shook his entire body around like an electrified puppet. This four piece band, Late of the Pier, made my night. Yes, I judged them. Yes, they looked like they'd stepped straight off a Klaxons Costume Night. But, yes, they blew the crowd away and stole the show.  

With a set that included tracks such as 'Focker', 'SPACE', 'Random' and 'Heartbeat', the titles can only begin to describe the energetic space tunes they knocked out. What was it? Rainbow music on red bull? Psychedelic merry-go-round tunes? It was indefinable, but the combination of a singer in ridiculously tight white jeans dedicating a track to the mythical 'black pig of Dublin'; a bass player with big lips alternating between synth, guitar-playing and amateur dramatics; and a tiny, crazy puppet who encouraged the crowd to 'hit the person next to you' seemed to really float my boat. The finale was the best - 'this is the part where we shake your hands' puppet boy said. And the band exited the stage from the front, shaking everyone's hands as they left the venue the way the punters came in. Brilliant! Energising! Exhausting!

After all the dancing and jumping of the first act, by the time Midnight Juggernauts came on I was almost feeling the creak. Almost. The Juggernauts put on an excellent show, building up their starry sounds with distortion and synth. The drummer was the real star; he reminded me of Animal from Sesame Street with a fuzzy face and head that bobbed up and down continuously. For anyone who has never heard the Juggernauts, just think of Justice, Air and Daft Punk, and then mix in three lads performing the tracks live, and you've got a good idea of the kind of sounds they made. Unfortunately, lead vocalist Vincent didn't have his voice as up to scratch as in their recordings.

For 'So Many Frequencies' a multicoloured xylophone emerged and the drummer tinkled away on it. However, the best tune had to have been 'Tombstone', where guitarist Andy took the synth and vocoder, and the drummer stood up on his kit - the band rocked the entire audience with the wall of sound. The crowd's favourite was 'Into the Galaxy' (the telling sign was getting pushed towards the stage), which had everyone throwing their hands up, dancing like crazy, and the band loved it. The drummer later poured a bottle of water over the crowd, who at this stage were sweating out unusual scents of ketchup (hope that wasn't me...). For the finale, '45 and Rising', the drummer took up his snare drum, hopped off the stage and placed it right in the middle of the crowd. He gave his sticks to a couple of guys, one of whom really played along professionally to the track. Before the end, the hard-working gothic roadie came back to reclaim the drum, and when it went back onstage the band finished off the night with climactic distortion and fuzzy amp noise.

After the gig, the Bang Gang DJs kept the tunes going in Tripod until late into the night. Both bands were there too, dancing away, and chatting to fans. This was, by far, one of the most surprisingly brilliant gigs I have been to. I think the creaky neck was worth it.

Niamh Madden


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28

Jens Lekman (live in The Village, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Jens Lekman returned to Ireland to play the last date on his tour. An excellent gig from one of indie pop’s greatest performers.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
Last December, Jens Lekman played to an adoring crowd in Whelan’s. It was just him and his percussionist, with a cameo from Owen Pallett (better known as Final Fantasy). That gig stands out for me as the best live experience of 2007. It finished with Lekman and Pallett playing a final 5 songs in the alley way beside Whelan’s.

On Sunday night, he returned. This time he played next door at The Village. The place was crowded and there was an air of expectancy. Obviously, word had spread even further due to both his last performance, and his spectacular latest album, ‘Night Falls Over Kortedala’. As promised, he brought a full band this time.

He opened with “I’m Leaving You Because I Don’t Love You”. Thanks to his accompaniment on bass, cello, violin and drums this time, the sound was much fuller and slick than his last visit. His voice was in fine form once again. The control he has over his voice can only really be appreciated live. It is flawless. The setlist consisted of nearly all of ‘Night Falls Over Kortedala’ interspersed with a few of his older tracks.

Lekman began ‘Black Cab’ by telling the story of a Turkish fan who approached him after a show disappointed that Jens had not played the song that goes: 'dooooo dooo’. Like the majority of the gig, ‘Black Cab’ was a splendid celebration of joyous pop. His performance of ‘Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo’ was possibly the happiest song I’ve ever seen played live. The horn section used on the record was replaced with a violin, which added another dimension to the song. Lekman commented that he felt it brought out the innocence of the song.

Jens Lekman is probably the funniest musician I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much at a gig before. His wit shows in both his lyrics and his on-stage banter. For the past couple of years he’s opened ‘A Postcard To Nina’ with the tale of how he visited his lesbian friend in Berlin, who had told her father that she was engaged to Jens, in order to hide her secret from him, before launching into song.

After just over an hour, he finished with a beautiful solo rendition of ‘Sirin’. It was a superb gig and Jens is a fantastic performer. However, it did not live up to the standards of his Whelan’s performance. It probably never could have. There was a bit more intimacy at that gig. The crowd were adoring that time where as they seemed colder in The Village, rarely joining in to sing. Only ‘Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill’ could get them to come out of their shell a bit. Sunday just was not special in the way that night in December was.

Garret Cleland


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22

Broken Social Scene (live in Vicar Street)

Review Snapshot: Broken Social Scene played a long set at over two hours - the result was euphoric and full, but there was a bit of a lull for a couple of tracks. There was also the issue of the small man in front of me, whose Guinness farts threatened to ruin the overall sensory experience. 

The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10

Full Review:
Broken Social SceneI'm 5'4". At some venues I end up standing tiptoed to get a glimpse of a head-banging blurred face onstage. The result? Painful soles and a poor visual experience. At Vicar Street though, no matter where a 5'4" girl stands, she still manages to be able to see everyone on stage. The Broken Social Scene gig was my second at Vicar St. and the venue is proving to be kind on the ears and eyes - I had a perfect view of the full band.

The night began with Charles Spearin’s Happiness Project - a quirky, fun introduction to Broken Social Scene. Charles played interviews that he had recorded with his neighbours, focussing first on the tones of the voices played back unaccompanied. After he played a section of an interview, the saxophone would mimic the notes of the voices - the idea then escalated into a guitar, voice and sax loop that became melodic and turned into something that really made me aware of the tones we use while speaking. Charles' experiment with sound was especially moving when he created a piece using the voice of a deaf woman who'd had a microchip inserted into her brain so that she could finally speak and hear through vibrations in her body: 'All of a sudden I felt my body moving the sound.'

When Broken Social Scene came on (Charles included), Kevin Drew opened to a packed crowd, telling us we were 'such a lovely fuckin' audience!'  He kept up the positive audience affirmations all night, and said that Dublin was his favourite place to play. The gig kicked off on a chilled out, downtempo vibe. What I love about Broken Social Scene's live performance is the concentration involved in playing - there's not much jumping around onstage - they have the airs and graces of an orchestra, particularly the brass. The musicality of the group as a team comes across; instrument switching happens frequently, effortlessly and adds to the performance.

One of the highlights of the gig was the second track, '7/4 (Shoreline).' You really got the full, all-encomapassing sound of the band, who played it with verve and high energy. Amy Millan's vocals were a bit quiet, but she shook her hair around and gave as much as the rest of them. For any fans of Broken Social Scene Presents...Kevin Drew, the group played several tracks from the 'Spirit If...' album, including the explosive, tingly 'Farewell to the Pressure Kids.'

Kevin Drew also played a couple of new songs, like 'Churches under the Stairs' - you could tell he was in jovial form, and well up for getting the audience involved. We were encouraged to scream, clap and sing. The whole performance felt natural, yet you could tell that it was the result of lots of practise. Broken Social Scene prove that image doesn't mean much when it comes to real music and making an impact on an audience.

One of the highlights was Kevin's solo version of 'Lover's Spit.' We were asked to hush while Kevin sang with just his keyboard as accompaniment. Towards the end, he laughed as his voice started to fade - and got nothing but praise from the audience. 'Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl' with Amy's soft singing blew us away - it was at that stage unfortunately that the man in front of me began letting the unique smell of methane waft from his butt towards my face. Not pleasant of course, but I can hardly take points away from the band for that.

The length of the set meant that at times there was a slight lull or lack; it's not something I can describe accurately, but the momentum seemed to fade at times. The finale picked up the pace again though with the striking brass on 'It's All Gonna Break' - a triumphant ending to a great night out with Kevin and the Scene.

Niamh Madden


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21

Bruce Springsteen (live in Los Angeles)

Bruce Springsteen live in LAReview Snapshot: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street are on a roll and have gotten more intense and passionate as their tour has progressed. They continue to examine our bleak recent past, but are heralding some light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel hope for the future. Dublin is in for a rock and roll revival beyond compare.

The Cluas Verdict? 9.5 out of 10

Full Review:
This is a follow up to a review of Springsteen’s show in October 2007. I was lucky enough to see the E Street band again, on their second go-round through the LA area. The show has changed a bit and is worthy of an update, as it is headed your way.

Springsteen has (mostly) kept the key sequences in the show, i.e. the "5 pack" that ends the main set (Devil's Arcade/The Rising/Last To Die/Long Walk Home/Badlands), but has hugely mixed up the rest of the set, adding songs of joy and songs of anger with a renewed vigor. It has been suggested that he is "on fire" these days because Ms. Scialfa is at home keeping their teenagers from burning down the house.

Springsteen is definitely more loose and provocative on this leg of the tour, but also even more passionate (if that’s possible). At my show, after a scathing performance of Murder Incorporated he screamed into the mic, "We’re out for blood!" He is adding "tour premier" songs just about every night.

Part of the change is that we in the U.S. are closer to the November election, and our long national nightmare will be ending soon (though with much devastation to repair). Springsteen speaks of the trauma of the last seven years but also talks more now about hope for the future. He has thrown in his lot with Senator Obama. "He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that's interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit."

Springsteen and the E Street Band are on fire, out for blood, and are inspired by the "Great American reclamation project" ahead that will heal wounds at home and abroad. Bruce is our truest ambassador.

John Ford


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16

Battles (live in Vicar St, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: More boring than bawlah.

The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10

Full Review:
Battles Last night, apparently, Vicar St. was the place to be; three bands, a sell out show, and more people than I’ve ever seen packed into this venue. The Red Neck Manifesto took to the stage shortly after nine o’clock, an expectant crowd wound up… and waited.

The Manifesto are a hard band to pin point, they play a super tight no nonsense style of instrumental indie jazz that is easy to appreciate, but apparently a good deal harder to enjoy. I can’t explain why - all the ingredients are there - but it just ain’t funky. Somehow, amidst all the finesse, between the precise licks and subtle changes, life is lost. The gig, and the tunes, never kick off, never pull in the audience, never really get under your skin and make you wanna get up offa your thing.

A packed venue, a crowd in the mood to party, an electric, expectant, atmosphere and most were left merely nodding their heads in appreciation. It's good music, technically flawless, but without the spark to grab you its nothing more than quirky background music, unsuited to the stage.

Battles I had never seen before, but had heard good, good things. Their name alone drew excitement, and from the crowd’s reaction it is evident that they have tapped into something. What that something is though, beats me. A few weeks ago, my most cynical friend described them as “a bunch of indie blokes with too much time and technology on their hands, trying to sound different.” After last night, I couldn’t agree more. There were good moments, sure, where everything meshed, the band tapped into the energy of the crowd, and it all somehow, miraculously, worked. Those were the good times.

The rest of the time was spent on loopers and style. Exaggerated emotion, tossed scarves, and sweaty, meaningful stares. Some people see the beats as something amazing, something new, something primal. But this seems to be a band trying to slavishly recreate the sound of a rave DJ. Except a DJ has all the tools at his hand, can meld the beats, and tweak them in any direction the mood points to. Battles are stuck in replication. They never seem to make the music their own, to add spark, or flare, and just go with it. Music at its most primal, is simple, an effortless mastery of sound that infects. The technology, or the rhythms themselves need not be simple, but they do have to be intrinsic, elemental to the player, to really allow them come to life. This just didn’t happen last night, it was as if the technology took centre stage; instead of being the medium, it became the message.

Passing the bouncer on the way for a pint, he tossed his head inside, raised an eyebrow and said “what the f**k is that?” Well, who the f**k knows. There is something there, when it hits, it works. Quite nicely. When it doesn’t it seems boring, forced and, well, just a little bit pointless.

Daragh Murray


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14

The Swell Season (live in the Uptown Theater, Kansas)

Review Snapshot: The music was great, the stories were not. Glen and The Frames were as remarkable as ever in their performance and still have what it takes to wow new audiences. Marketa added texture and a breath of fresh air to to the proceedings. Unfortunately Glen's involved stories and self indulgent ramblings detracted from what was otherwise a stellar Frames performance.

The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10

The Swell Season liveFull Review: I’m a long-time Frames fan, I admit it. I first saw them in Dolans in Limerick, circa 1995, during my halcyon college days. I’ve interviewed Glen and Colm and been to my fair share of Frames gigs in the intervening years. My slavish following has waned in recent times, so it was an unusual pleasure to find myself in Kansas City, Missouri on a Monday night with tickets to see Glen and Marketa, aka The Swell Season.

Upon walking into the Uptown Theater in Kansas the brawny voice of Damien Dempsey was echoing around the auditorium. I only caught his last two songs but he seemed to get a warm reception. The Uptown Theater is something like The Olympia after a colour explosion; embossed orange wallpaper, Grecian statues and urns and an almost Mexican feel to it. The crowd was diverse, plenty of soccer moms and dads, and every age from babes in arms to Grandma and Grandpa.

The show opened with ‘Say it to me now’ with Glen at his acoustic best, all alone on the edge of the stage, no need of a microphone. He went on to introduce Marketa and the two of them launched into, ‘All the Way down’. I have to admit I had goose bumps; their voices combined produce a hauntingly beautiful sound. Glen invited the guys from The Frames out on stage and then characteristically got a little carried away with a shout of “Yeah F*ck Yeah” which shocked  the politically correct American massive. But he recovered and explained the inspiration for their song ‘This Low’. It involved finding and reading a self-help book left behind after the breakup of a relationship. They seem to enjoy his talking here; maybe it’s the lilting Irish accent. It’s a stunning love song and built up to a crescendo of heartfelt emotion, with Marketa harmonising during the chorus.

Next up was ‘Drown Out', again preceded by a long and rambling introduction, far too long to go into here. Suffice to say it’s inspired by a story of religious persecution in the 1400s and a ghost speaking through the husband of a reiki healer that Glen knows. I’m not sure even the Americans were getting it. The song sounded good though, with Colm’s fiddle adding power as did the piano accompaniment.

Finally some beats and energy. The whole band got involved on ‘When Your Minds Made Up’and the place rocked to the strong drum beat. Colm was sterling as ever on the fiddle. This was much nearer to The Frames magic of old. Marketa adds sparkle and lightness to their overall sound and she sounds so charming with her Irish accent. For her next melodic offering, possibly entitled ‘Forgive me lover’, she introduced Graham Hopkins (Therapy? and Halite) as her accompaniment on drums.

‘Falling Slowly’, Glen and Marketa’s Oscar winning song got a great reception. Typically Glen expanded on his Oscar glory. He used a metaphor of kicking a ball which goes way beyond where you expected it to. “You just wanted it to go over the wall but it kept going and now you want your ball back”. He told how he was sad because of everything he’d been for 20 years (in The Frames) and now he’s singled out as the “successful guy”. His language throughout the evening was smattered with expletives and his excuse? He blamed the 800 years that the English had beaten our language out of us, so he believes it’s now our job to corrupt the English language. At this point I was almost ready to leave.

I didn't, and next up, appropriately enough, was ‘Leave’. It’s a heart wrenchingly, aching love song. Glen sang it alone and built it up until he was almost spitting out the words. You could feel the genuine heartache on it. This was followed by ‘What happens when the heart just stops’, another sad relationship song.

Marketa took to the stage again and they delivered one of their favourite busking songs ‘Just wishing that I had just something you were’ by the Pixies. The glorious ‘Your Face’ was all Glen with gentle backing music and harmonies; it brought me right back to all those nights in dark, packed venues around Ireland, mesmerised by the songs and overflowing emotions. To finish the show it was Marketa with ‘If you want me’. It’s almost a Lisa / Damien phenomenon. The rapt audience barely exhaled as Marketa’s poignant voice filled the theatre. She sounded so strong with Glen on backing duties.

The encore started with ‘The Blue Shoes’ Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s masterpiece on the fiddle. Some people started to leave but he entranced the remaining spectators. The whole band came back and Glen commented that it was his favourite night of the tour. Then into ‘Fitzcarraldo’, I couldn’t believe I knew all the words and even found myself singing along. It’s hard to beat the Frames fan out of me. Next up the strummed opening bars signalled the start of the tender ‘Star, star’ which, as always, moved into ‘Pure Imagination’. Glen gave Joe his time in the limelight.

If there’s one thing you can say about The Frames they never stop giving, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lacklustre performance from them. Next another ‘Frames’ classic and one of my favourites ‘Red Cord’. I’m lost to them again. All the talking and throwaway comments from Glen forgotten in the passion of their performance.

I ended the night with mixed emotions, varying from pride at the positive reaction they got from the crowd to embarrassment at some of the comments made during the evening. But I’m a lifelong fan so it’s hard to detach myself. This may be the time to really introduce the music of The Frames to the wider world, I just hope Glen manages to let the music speak for itself.

Celine O'Malley


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30

Gemma Hayes (live in Tripod, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Despite the distraction of events elsewhere, Hayes and her band of merry men were able to put on a really impressive gig that showcased the Tipperary native as one of Ireland's brightest talents.

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:Gemma Hayes Live
Anyone who reads my Key Notes Blog will know that I wasn't too sure about reviewing this gig.  After all, a certain European Cup semi-final was taking place at the same time and was pulling at my heartstrings.  However, despite missing out on Manchester United's victory, I made the right call by attending tonight's gig.

Initially I was worried that the gig might not be well attended as the crowd - most of whom decided to forgo Ann Scott's performance for the action at Old Trafford - were late getting in.  More fool them.  Scott is a competent performer with a haunting voice that was particularly impressive on set opener 'Jealousy'.  What let her down tonight though was the lack of a band.  Her guitar playing was not strong enough to support her voice and it was only at the end of her 5 song set, when she introduced a drum machine, that it really felt like she owned the stage.  Still, Tripod is a big venue to face when it's half empty and she did a good job warming up the crowd that had turned up.

Having never seen Gemma Hayes live before, my jaw dropped to the floor when she walked on stage tonight, but not for the reason you might think.  Hayes was accompanied on stage tonight by a veritable 'who's who' of the Irish indie scene.  

With such an impressive troupe around her, Hayes could hardly fail to impress.  However, it would be unfair give all the credit to her illustrious band as tonight Hayes provides them with excellent songs with which to work.  Opening with crowd favourite 'Happy Sad', Hayes and band launched into a lively 13 song set.  Aware of what was also taking place tonight, Hayes thanked the crowd, consisting mostly of mid-twenty year old women and their partners, for turning up tonight and even asked what the score was at one stage.

Highlights of the evening included new song 'Out of Our Hands' and 'Over My Head' ('Can you see a theme developing?' she asked) which were played back to back and showcased an impressive vocal range.  The only time the crowd really lost any interest tonight was during 'Home' a song taken from Hayes' new album 'The Hollow of Morning' which was unfortunately timed with the sound of hundreds of text messages announcing the result of the match.  However, obviously happy with the result, ther crowd soon picked up again during the performance of 'Back of My Hand'.

Overall, Gemma Hayes is very easy to like.  Her interaction with the crowd, while frequent, never strays into the Glen 'This song's about' Hansard range.  As a performance it's virtually flawless.  The only complaint I could have is that it finished very early, slightly after 10.  What ever happened to rock and roll; staying out all night, even if it is a school night!  However, that should not take away from Hayes', and indeed her bands, talent.  Gig of the year (so far) for me. 

Steven O'Rourke


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28

Electric Eel Shock (live in Fibber Magees, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Electric Eel Shock provided one of those nights where you arrive with very little expectation and leave with sweat on your brow and a smile on your face.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
It's not very often I have to be convinced to go to a gig but tonight was one such occasion.  Having spent the day toiling in the never-ending mountain of work that is my garden, the last thing I wanted to do was spend an evening in the company of, well, anyone.  However, as is her way, my wife convinced me otherwise and Electric Eel Shock went on to provide one of the most high-energy shows I've seen in quite a while, proving once again that my prettier half is always right.Electric Eel Shock

Opening the night was Acoustic Eel Shock, essentially Electric Eel Shock's drummer Tomoharu 'Gian' Ito on an acoustic guitar.  It only lasted a handful of songs and he sang in Japanese but it sounded good and Ito's guitar playing skills were impressive. 

Next on the bill were Nations of Fire, a band whose moniker could well be their undoing as I heard the phrase 'Nations of Sh*te' on more than one occasion during their set.  That might be too harsh a review but they weren't exactly an easy band to like unless you're fifteen and think that nobody understands you.  Perhaps Nations of Fire would work as an instrumental band as they seem to have some decent material but it was as poor a vocal performance as I've heard in a long time.

The penultimate act of the evening was Nova Static.  It seemed a strange choice of gig for the band though, as their brand of melodic rock (think Weezer or Muse) was at odds with what preceded and, indeed, what was to follow.  This was my second time seeing the band in a little over a week and while I was impressed the first time, they were even better this time around.  They are, dare I say it, a very radio-friendly band, with 'Tape it off the Radio' and 'Meet me in the Underground' especially impressing.  Having secured two high-profile support slots in a fortnight - two weeks ago they were the opening act for the Portlaoise leg of the 2fm 2moro 2our - it would be interesting to see Nova Static play a longer 'headline' set.

And so we come to Electric Eel Shock.  Sometimes you can't explain why you like a performance.  If I were to review this logically the music wasn't particularly inspiring and the lyrics were, ahem, interesting (with songs called 'Bastard' and 'I Love Fish but Fish Hate Me' what did I expect?).  But this gig was about the energy of the performance and the ability of the band to whip the crowd (consisting of an odd mix of young Japanese women and balding-but-still-having-long-hair middle aged men) into a frenzy, and all this despite playing a Black Sabbath cover!  As lead singer Aki Morimoto told us many times, Electric Eel Shock 'love heavy metal!'.  Before this gig I didn't particularly care for it, afterwards, well, I was more impressed than I ever thought I could be.

Steven O'Rourke


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Nuggets from our archive

1999 - 'The eMusic Market', written by Gordon McConnell it focuses on how the internet could change the music industry. Boy was he on the money, years before any of us had heard of an iPod or of Napster.