The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Gig Reviews

17
Fleetwood Mac (live in Dublin)
Fleetwood Mac (live in the O2, Dublin) Review Snapshot: A band that has been on the go for over 40 years, albeit with changes in personnel along the way. While the band may be deteriorating, the m...

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17
Day Two Hard Working Class Heroes 2009
Oliver Cole, Escape Act & Others (live in Temple Bar, Dublin) Review Snapshot:  Day two of Hard Working Class Heroes involved quite a bit of venue shifting but was all the better for...

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17
Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 Day 1
Villagers, The Ambience Affair & Others (HWCH, live in Temple Bar, Dublin) Review Snapshot:   The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10 Full Review: While my intention had been...

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16

Joshua Radin (live in The Academy, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: It was always going to be interesting to see if Radin’s quiet yet absorbing melodies along with his whispery vocals could translate well to the stage. Unexpectedly but brilliantly, it transcended into an appreciated and intimate gig as you could hope to see, in a criminally underrated venue. 

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:
Like many others, I discovered Joshua Radin’s music playing in the background of the more touching scenes in the TV show Scrubs. (Hey, good music can be found anywhere, right?) And good music is exactly what I found; some say the answer to Elliott Smith’s sad departure in 2003. But Radin is a breath of fresh air on his own with an addictive folk ethic on debut album “We Were Here” which is now improved by a pop-rock element on his more recent release “Simple Times”. It was quite a happy coincidence recently getting hooked on his music to discover only a couple of weeks later he’s playing in the Academy.  

As “Simple Times” demonstrated a surge in Radin’s confidence, it’s fitting that he looks thrilled to be here, playing with vigor and opening with “One of Those Days”, the opening track to his latest offering. That’s soon followed by new material not due for release till next year, (unfortunately). Obvious highlights include “Closer” and “Winter” along with “Brand New Day”. 

As so many of his songs would suggest but never quite confirm, Radin is a storyteller and every song is preceded by a story, the crowd charmed no doubt by his tale of playing in Doyle’s pub on Fleet Street some years ago. Quite often, Radin’s whispered, wistful vocals so commonplace on his records remain just that playing live but he has an audience to appreciate it, some being told to shut up while he’s playing when all they were doing was ordering a drink! To prove the point, he compared the audience to a New York audience, who are never quiet during a performance, but he enjoyed the attention so much, he had his band unplug all the instruments and descend into the middle of the crowd for a song. No electrics, no mics, and the crowd never missed a beat.

Radin’s influence by Dylan also plays a part as the show goes on as new material and “Free of Me” are played with a more upbeat tempo and acoustic ring before finishing off with the entire band semi-circling 2 microphones, jamming and loving it. 

Those of you don’t know should get to know Radin’s music, its delicious melodies, catchy finger-picking and unassuming lyrics are enough to capture the imagination of any serious music lover. To witness this performance in front of such an appreciative audience (not to mention the staggeringly cheap ticket price of €17) in such an intimate setting was nothing short of a thrill.  

An immersive, intimate and above all else, essential gig. 

Jimmy Murphy


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28

Frank and Walters live in CorkReview Snapshot: Cork's finest take to the stage in their home city and quite literally blow the pants off the punters and the roof off the venue...not sure if that's legal, but it's mighty craic!

Full Review: Well, what a night! Murphy’s! Magic! The Mrank and Malters! Everything began with an M! Remember M for Michael later on!

In a hothouse sauna renamed The Brog for the night, the Murphy’s Nice ‘n Nasty season continued with “Cork’s favourite sons” (© The Frank and Walters) allowing us to enter their world. Indeed, even in their 20th year, the Franks have never seemed as relevant to the masses who are force-fed Lady Gaga, Peter Andre and the Continuity Wolfe Tones (or whoever they are this week)!

Take a string quartet, 2 original Franks, a new Frank and part-time Frank, lashings of free Murphy’s and music, sweat Fred West would have worked up. Mix it all together with a touch of madness. Ta-da! A night to remember, that’s for sure!

Divided into two parts, "Nice" and then "Nasty showcased the Franks at their best – Engaging! Edgy! Entertaining! Extravagant! Excellent! The 4 lassies that made up the Murphy’s Quarter (string quartet) provided superb support to the reworking of seven of the Franks' most appropriate songs for the night. For those who attended last year’s Speigel tent celebration of the Grand Parade album, this was second helpings with Landslide, Little Dolls, Russian Ship and How Can I Exist all being reproduced to a staggering high quality. The evening kicked off with Miles and Miles and it was great to see the lead single from A Renewed Interest In Happiness being well received. Throw in the obligatory After All, the reaction of the crowd (and look on the Quartet’s faces) was classic as the anthemic choruses raised the roof! The Nice element ended with This Is Not A Song and as I queued at the bar, it was clear the crowd was in good fettle for the next half of the performance. Again, the punters went in full voice here and took the interval to have a healthy cigarette and kebab at the 4* Istanbul restaurant.

The "Nasty" session kicked off to the sound of THE best version of Fast Anthony the reviewer has heard – bar one. The one fault with the prior "Nice" set was the sound on the left of the stage was poor; methinks down to trying to keep 15 microphones in check. The second half sound never waved as Cian Corbett gave a rasta/indie keyboard effect to the speeded up Tony Cochrane. Fashion Crisis and Country Boy followed, both book ending the 20 great Franks year so far. With Darren Mullin standing in for Kevin P who was attending a wedding (calm down girls, not his own) in Italy, we knew Fight would be on the set list – and so it was! A rip-snorting animal which couldn’t be tamed was unleaded and the explosiveness of Mullin’s geetar playing mean we tripped over nicely into Colours and Indian Ocean, further proof of the greatness of the Grand Parade album. A special song then made its way onto the list and the sound of Underground completed Flood’s engineering from all those years ago – who remembers the video for this one???!!!

The last song could only be Time To Say Goodnight. There is only one song to end with Len Cremin remarked – and I agree. Again with pounding sticks-works from Drum Keating and Paul giving it all, we knew the evening was nearly at a close. The shout went up "we are... we are... we are the Frank and Walters..." as the band returned for a well deserved encore. What could it be? Remember at the start? Yep, it was Michael and with the man whom this song was written about being in the audience, I can assure you that Paul, Ash, Cian and Darren brought down the house with a fantastic version of the classic!! We Care!!

So, the DJ came on and we all carried on. A great night. Lots of regular Franks with folk coming from as far away as Manchester, London and Limerick for the concert. One fan dressed head to toe in Franks gear summed it up, "it’s before payday, I borrowed a tenner from my ma, I am going to have 10 free pints of Murphy’s this evening, I am here with 400 friends and tonight I got to see my favourite band free! Where else would you get that?" I don’t know either but it would have to be special … so f**king special!

After note: Geelong beat St Kilda to win the Australian Football League Final, and Michael and I made our ways into the sunlight sometime on Saturday morning! We care Michael, we care!

Dan Foley


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15

Live in Kilkee, Co. Clare, 13th September 2009

Review Snapshot: Due to a tyre puncture on the way back from a surf session in neighbouring Doonbeg, yours truly was unavoidably delayed en route to the evening festivities in Kilkee, arriving in the Big Top just in time to see Stereo MCs walk on stage. Whew!

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:
Stereo MCs: Looking around at the young wans who were waving their hands in the air to dance anthems such as ‘Black Gold’ and ‘Step it Up’ it was sobering to realise that a good proportion of them probably weren’t
born when Stereo MCs released their first album. Once again the crisp, clean and loud sound mix that was a hallmark of this year’s festival proved a boon to the groovy tunes of a group who mix infectious beats with upfront, if stripped down, political statements. The only question was, why schedule them on the Sunday, when so many attendees were heading home for work on the Monday morning, instead of the Saturday night when they would have elevated an already party hearty crowd? Nonetheless, if you stayed around for them, you got yours.

The Zutons: In a nutshell, I loved this band, delivering a razor sharp performance, The Zutons ‘s unique sound nonetheless managed to channel elements of bands as diverse as the The Beatles and The E Street Band. Their note perfect, steam train rock and roll was the perfect end to what was a weekend of great music in a setting that has so much to offer, provided you don’t keep your arse parked on the grass with a pint in your hand. Yes, the Zutons duly played hits such as, ‘Valerie’, ‘Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love?’ and, as a finale, a storming version of, ‘You Will You Won’t’, but to be honest the whole set was a highlight and, yes, Abi Harding was looking particularly fine in a red dress, but it was great to hear four great musicians just go out there and play their socks off, get the crowd involved and turn the Big Top into the sort of party that Bruce Springsteen rhapsodises about. Transcedent.

Rev Jules


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13

Cois Fharraige Day Two (live in Kilkee, Co. Clare)

Review Snapshot: There were thousands of people walking around Kilkee on Saturday sporting the latest in surf fashion but in the water at Lahinch, Spanish Point and Doonbeg you could count the surfers on two hands. Meanwhile back at the festival, The Hold Steady, Noah and The
Whale and Newton Faulkner served up some savage musical entertainment

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:
The Hold Steady
Looking like the cast of Seinfeld decided to form a band, the anxious nerd rock of The Hold Steady proved the perfect antidote to the mellow
sunlit vibes that have blessed the festival thus far, with ‘Stay Positive’ being a crowd highlight. The band’s hard chugging sound and neuroses laced lyrics were an unusual counterpoint to a festival that, thus far, has aimed for a balance between very serious rock and music that you can drink to. If you are the sort of person who curses the sunshine and stays indoors with a book by Albert Camus then this may just be your kind of band.

Noah & The Whale
The opportunity to see Noah and The Whale perform live versions of tracks from their new album, ‘The First Days of Spring’ which the Sunday Times has described as a ‘masterpiece’, was a bona fide must see for this reviewer but for anyone expecting a game of throw the inflatable chair around the crowd to ‘Five Years Time’ then this set would have been a bit of a surprise. The band walked onstage with the confident gait that musicians adopt when they realise they may have produced an album to match ‘Astral Weeks’ or ‘Transformer’ and then, dour to the point of uncommunicative, proceeded to play the highlights of, ‘The First Days of Spring’, their only nod to their audience being to tell us their name.

Given the emotional punch and musical delicacy of Noah and The Whale’s music, I’m not sure the party atmosphere of the Big Top at Kilkee was the best forum to for this performance, the audience only engaging with them to sing along with their hit single ‘Five Years Time [Sun, Sun, Sun], but for this reviewer at least ‘Blue Skies’ was a highlight and I can imagine people who spent the day drinking down by the beach later claiming that they were here for this gig, tough if you weren’t.

Newton Faulkner
Based on the love shown to the dreadlocked Faulkner when he appeared on stage, it looks like the Irish are going to do for him what they have previously done for Chris Rea, David Gray and Josh Ritter. Mixing new tracks from his new, as yet unreleased album ‘Rebuilt by Humans’,
with favourites from his hit debut ‘Hand built by Robots’, Faulkner was clearly playing to a crowd that knew and loved his work.

Supporting himself with a variety of unusual musical instruments such as a cassette tape player and a keyboard that he played with his feet,
Faulkner’s guitar style owes more to Bobby McFerrin and Stanley Jordan then it does the standard white bloke with an acoustic guitar. It is
also fortunate that Faulkner is an excellent showman, whipping the crowd up at one point with a routine in which he asked them to imagine
themselves as a crew of pirates suffering from rabies, on a ship headed to shore, to confront their arch enemies the barbarian hordes.  Having said that, Faulkner’s self penned material to date does not match the quality of his brilliant reworking of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ which affords him the perfect vehicle to showcase his musical abilities.

Rev Jules


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12

Day One of Cois Fharraige (live in Kilkee, Co. Clare)

Review Snapshot: A beautiful sunny day ended with a blistering set by epic rockers Doves, grooves from Laura Izibor and post punk larking around courtesy of The Blizzards).

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:
Laura Izibor
Presently touring with a crack American band, Izibor delivered a pumping set of beefed up versions of the highlights of her debut album. The live setting and the crisp, clear sound gave added power to crowd favourites, ‘From My heart To Yours’, ‘Carousel’ and ‘Yes, I’ll be Your Baby’, but it was a stonking version of ‘Shine’, transformed from a feel good summer tune to a grooving, funky anthem that best demonstrated Izibor’s ability to transfer her mellow, laid back soul into a live arena.

The Blizzards
Coming on stage bathed in purple light and accompanied by moody background music, the cheeky chappies of The Blizzards wasted no time in getting the party started right. Mixing tracks such ‘Silence is Violence’ and ‘Postcards’ [dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives on 9/11] with a thumping cover version of ‘Black & Gold’, a tribute to The Specials and a sneaky riff on Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’, The Blizzards delivered a set that buoyed up the party attitude of the crowd without betraying their Ska/Punk roots.

Doves
I had never seen this band live before and was unprepared for the relentless, pounding sonic assault that they delivered. Indeed, so overpowering was their music that two songs in I realised that the thumping in my chest was not caused by my own heart but by the waves of sound coming from the speakers. In a nutshell, with live favourites including ‘Snowden’ and ‘The Last Broadcast’, Doves make music akin to a giant beating a whale to death with a tree trunk in a canyon. What
an utterly glorious epic racket.  An encore that climaxed with the band all playing percussion instruments together left me staggering out into the crisp, cold night feeling dazed, confused and exhilarated.

Rev Jules


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11

Glasgowbury 2009, live in Derry

Review snapshot: Two thousand five hundred music fans with a liking for mountainous flora and fauna descend upon Eagles Rock for another feast of ceol agus craic.

Full review:
Mud, sticky mud, deep mud, all very brown, and, well, everywhere. Well, it's Ireland, it's summertime, what you gonna do? Put the head down and stick two wet fingers up to it. Early Saturday, the sky's blue, the birds chirping, signs for a dry day were good. Fast forward a few hours, tents erected, first beer started and Zeus decided to fart on us. Well, macks and wellies packed, up yours Zeus

As the festival site dried out on Sunday morning, the 2500 (the first sell out) weary troopers left Eagles Rock a bit battered and the worse for wear, but happy of heart. Glasgowbury 09, the tenth festival was again, an unmitigated success.

Over 60 bands played throughout the Saturday on 4 stages. The best of the North’s burgeoning talent, along with some new pretenders, mixed with a smidgen of oldin’ goldies, including the only Irishman to play the original Woodstock, 'Sir' Henry McCullough (take a bow sir) wowed the muddy masses. And lest we forget, local dance heroes, the Deep Fried Funk ensemble provided a few late night beats and the Innishowen Gospel choir along side The Beat Initiative, the North’s carnival arts collective bringing a bit of culture to the proceedings.

As with most folk and festivals, the best laid plans and itinerarys often get slightly altered, or in this case completely reworked as a few sociable beers were shared with old and new acquaintances in the very picturesque campsite.

We eventually did make it into the festival proper; we were greeted with the dirty rock tones of Derry's Skruff. A whirlwind set of fine riffs and sky punching rock beats got the day off to a good start.

Skruff stable-mates, Here Comes the Landed Gentry took on the baton with an hour of wondrous grunt fueled rock and hillbilly blues. HCTLG have been become a bit of an institution in the north of the island and it isn’t hard to see why, the tunes, the energy, the peerless front man, Marty Doherty, aka Mort Van Cleef Dortenson and their inimitable rapport with the crowd. HCTLG will be playing Dublin's 'Hard Working Class Heroes' festival in October, go check, you won’t be disappointed.

General Fiasco have been touring extensively of late and on the back of a storming set at Oxegen, took to the main stage and showed the masses just why they have been touted for great things. They are as tight as they are confident and assured with a set of blistering pop infused rock in their youthful armoury.

And So I Watch You From Afar as this year’s headliners finished off the night, and the festival, in style. As the night sky embraced Eagles Rock, Ireland's answer to Explosions in the Sky took to the main stage with a sonic array of building instrumental rock tunes.

Nobody does loud-quiet-loud quite like these guys, and the crowd react, oh how the crowd react. This gig had everything, the tunes, a stage invasion, even some vocals (!), all lapped up by a few thousand smiling, and spoiled Irish folk... Legendary.

Roll on 2010.

Sig Doherty


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17
Grizzly Bear, Telepathe, Bill Callahan (live in St Malo)
Grizzly Bear, Telepathe, Andrew Bird and Bill Callahan (live at la Route du Rock, St Malo, France) Review Snapshot: Telepathe's cracking NY electro gets lost in a large theatre; all hail Bill ...

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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).