The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Gig Reviews

26

Groom (live, Upstairs in Whelan's, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Those who were downstairs waiting for Mundy to play one of his two songs, could have done far worse than make their way upstairs to see two examples of how one man and a guitar doesn't have to sound boring or formulaic.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:Groom Live
Being a vegetarian means that sometimes, when you want more than just 'Pasta in a non-descript white sauce', you find yourself having to look around for somewhere to eat.  It was because of this that I only arrived in Whelan's half way through Neosupervital's support slot. This was my first time upstairs in Whelan's and it has a very peculiar shape for a venue and appears to be more suited from its previous purpose (as a smoking room) than as a gig venue.  That being said, its design forces people towards the stage and lends an intimacy that many venues lack. 

Tim 'Neosupervital' O'Donovan is leading a one man crusade to to bring synth pop to the masses.  Now that he's no longer on drumming duties for Bell X1, it appears O'Donovan is concentrating more on his music than his image.  Gone are the sharp suits and Knightrider sunglasses and in comes a sound that relies more on Neosupervital's craft and musicianship than drum machines and computers.  It's very early to say but, on this performance, one can't help but be very excited about O'Donovan's upcoming sophomore record.

Next on stage was Groom who proved to be more than just Mike Stevens and his whimsical way with words.  Opening with Death of a Songwriter, Stevens and his talented band lead the audience through a set that consists mostly of tracks from their new mini-album, At the Natural History Museum

While it was the upbeat tracks such as Mythical Creatures and Worst of Places, Worst of Times (a song about the 80's) that provoked the best reaction from the crowd, it was on At the Natural History Museum and Moving West that Groom proved their worth as accomplished musicians and performers.  Stevens himself seems, at times, a reluctant frontman (think E without the beard) and yet, walked amongst the audience shaking hands with everyone he could during one instrumental section.

Overall, tonight could well prove to be something of a watershed moment in Irish indie music.  While downstairs, Mundy was helping Whelan's celebrate their 20th birthday with his own brand of alt-folk, so loved by Irish music fans for the last 10 years, upstairs two of Ireland's most innovative and exciting acts were showcasing the future of indie music in this country. 

Steve O'Rourke


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
18

Alias Empire  (live in Crawdaddy, Dublin)

alias empireReview Snapshot: Happy, dizzy, sweaty: Alias Empire rocked a sell-out Antics night with enough synths to wake yer granddad. 

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:
I like disproportion. And I like sensory stimulation. This might explain my love of tiny daffodils, miniature Heroes and giant Jenga. It would also account for my pleasant feelings on walking into Tripod Wednesday night to see a huge white Raffaello on the ceiling, a giant stretched thong-like decoration, young girls with small knees and a DJ with a tiny head and gigantic round headphones.

Crawdaddy filled up nicely as Antics began to sell out. The time waiting for Alias Empire (formerly Dry County) to take the stage was spent posing in front of visuals that consisted of whales, fish and other little monsters swirling around in a sea of colour. The music began with Jape and Morrissey and ended up getting all tech-house-like which got the crowd excited.

Before Alias Empire came on, I'd already inspected their equipment – MS 2000B synth (impressive-looking), numerous other synthesizers as well as a stage densely packed with wires. The four-piece Dublin band powerfully began with an introduction that was stimulating – lights under their microphones, visuals that included nuclear mushroom clouds and chattering teeth. Their new image's presence showed with AE Kraftwerk style T-shirts that were perhaps a little too imitative for my liking. When they played Attention about five people suddenly got up onstage, with one chubby guy jumping out and trying to crowd-surf across a too-thin audience.

Alias Empire played like voracious electronic beasts with a synthesizer tour-de-force that showed off their older tracks and fluently introduced new material that the crowd enjoyed. A short power-cut at the start of the set was disappointing, but covered up easily when it suddenly surged back and the band were back on their feet. Lead singer Kevin gave as much energy as he does on the band's debut album, and he proved to be adept at multi-tasking both singing and synth-ing. The baseball capped lead guitarist was also a star, getting all Lager Lager onstage, giving himself naturally to the audience.

The standout track was 'Stop – Proceed', which emitted lots of energy for dancing around to, and encouraging Kevin to note that the 'girl at the front knew the words'. (Me, of course). The final climax came when the band rolled from Pins to their own version of Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. This got the crowd worked up and in the mood for going next door to dance after the gig. The band proved that their material works on many levels, with dancing, crowd-surfing and stage-invading all obvious elements of the evening.

Niamh Madden


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
13

The IMRO Showcase Tour 2009 (The Sugar Club, Dublin)

The ReveliionsReview Snapshot: The IMRO gig at The Sugar Club showcased a number of talented new musicians who gained full audience appreciation with their varied sounds. 

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:

There’s something about venues. With its tiered seating, shining disco ball, velvet curtain and candle-lit tables, The Sugar Club set up a serene and relaxed feeling the minute you took a seat. There was a real sense of 1950s nostalgia about the set-up. I almost felt like a member of the Back to the Future audience, awaiting Marty McFly’s inappropriate Johnny B. Goode guitar solo. The IMRO gig was full of band members, mates of mates, and mates of mates of mates, who showed up to give them support.

Dublin alt-rockers I Phoenix were first up. Their solos were not as insane as Johnny B. Goodness, but with a powerful and intense sound they acted as a refreshing break from effects-heavy laptop bands. With gutsy climaxes and well-developed endings, the band appeared to be a tight and well-practiced group. The vocals were a little hard to hear, but technical details aside, they proved to be a talented little rock outfit.

More characters streamed into the glow of the old theatre – the man with the handlebar mustache, the girl with massive glasses and wide belt, lots of Topman clothed boys. (Quick digression - Am I the only one who is a little bored with uber-trendiness at gigs? Or maybe I’m just jealous…) Strolling to the bar, I discovered my biggest disappointment of the evening – emptying Six Euro onto the countertop for a bottle of Tiger. After just seven months of living in the UK I seemed to have acquired an exaggerated culture shock when buying any form of drink back at home.

The second biggest disappointment of the evening was also the second band, five-piece Harrows. Their early tracks showed them to be poppy, radio-friendly and almost too good to be true, with catchy riffs, a Kings of Leon soundalike as lead vocalist who rasped in all the right places. But as the tunes wore on, I realized there was far too much repetition in the lyrics and the sound. Having previously won the 2FM Battle of the Bands Dublin heats, I could see them being successful because they seem to fit into the young rock scene quite well, even if they weren’t to my taste.

Third band House of Dolls were also quite fashionable – with Johnny Two Belts on guitar and banging on a single drum – but their music seemed a little more mature. With influences like Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine, their music had a moody 90s sound that rocked The Sugar Club. There was a little too much reverb on the vocals but the full sound of the band made up for that minor tick. The audience seemed to really enjoy the band, and there was a great atmosphere of appreciation for all of the bands during the evening.

The Revellions, a band who looked and sounded like The Doors, were the final act to take the stage. Tight pants? Yep. Straight hair? Yep. A faraway gaze? Yep. The five-piece were immediately tagged for me as Monkees. With mic-swinging and leaping around, they gave an energetic performance and show promise for any fans of a heavy 1960s sound.

This evening’s IMRO Showcase proved to be a classic night of talented regional bands that have the potential to become more widely known. Showcase acts from 2008 such as Robotnik, Codes, The Kinetiks and Halves have garnered more fans and a greater reputation with the launch pad that such a showcase gig can supply.

Niamh Madden

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
07
Maximo Park (live in Dublin)
Maximo Park (live in The Academy, Dublin) Review Snapshot: The Geordies return to Dublin to play new material and their old familiar songs to a packed Academy. As always they provide an energetic ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
01
A Place To Bury Strangers (live in Dublin)
A Place To Bury Strangers (live in Whelan's, Dublin) Review Snapshot: The loudest band in New York brings their Jesus and Mary Chain meets My Bloody Valentine to Whelan’s of Wexford...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
22

Mogwai

Mogwai (live in The Academy, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: A long overdue Dublin gig by the purveyors of post-rock brings The Academy to never-before reached sonic levels on the opening night of a 3-day residency at the Dublin venue. The Hawk is Howling might disappoint in its recorded format, but it was the focal point around which this gig rocked.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
The term "post-rock" has attached to it Celtic Tiger levels of stigma - who coined the phrase, who invented it, who pioneered it, who defines it? From Slint to Explosions In The Sky, there have been many life-altering post-rock moments but for me post-rock was born upon hearing Mogwai's 'Like Herod' at Witnness 2003. Its raucous and tense "bridge-chorus" section completely outshone the quiet-then-loud formula of bands I worshipped like The Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. As much as Mogwai might dislike being pigeonholed by an umbrella term, their live show does put them head and shoulders above whatever people may consider their contemporaries in the spectrum of instrumental rock.

Although never quite reaching their characteristic earplug-essential levels of loudness in this intimate club gig, the set-closing rock-out of 'Like Herod' and 'Batcat' - along with an intense feed of strobe lighting - was awesome. Leaving the stage before 10pm, there was a palpable sense of anti-climax amongst the crowd. They needn't have worried. Returning with an encore consisting solely of the 20 minute-plus epic 'My Father My King', it was the closest thing to metaphysical I had encountered since being told to use the term on the Yeats' question in the Leaving Cert. Centred around one brief arabic-esque melody, the track is somehow kept alive with intricate riff variations and in particular the crunching guitar of Stuart Braithwaite. This is all sounds very Spinal Tap - especially since the volume was turned up to eleven - but it works. Well worth checking out the Steve Albini-produced EP that brought this track to life.

'Scotland's Shame' aside, this reviewer was not overjoyed with Mogwai's latest offering The Hawk Is Howling. However the layered crescendo of 'I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead' and Barry Burns' eerie keyboard tinkering on 'Thank You Space Experts' did give the album a new breath of life in its live format. Burns himself induced the biggest headf**k of the evening with some indistinguishable-yet-haunting vocoder acappella at the end of 'Hunted By A Freak'. I'm going to park this review now, Mogwai's is not a medium to which words can do justice. In a dream world, these guys would be filling stadiums in their own right but until then lets hope they play the Electric Picnic.

Ronan Lawlor


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
14
Spinnerette (live in London)
Spinnerette (live in 02 Islington Academy, London) A scan over Queens of the Stone Age's Wikipedia page reveals no fewer than nineteen groups considered to be 'associated acts', includ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
12

The Gaslight Anthem (live in The Academy, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Pop instincts wrapped in a ragged cloak. The Gaslight Anthem played their first Irish Gig in the Academy, March 4th, supported by Frank Turner. High energy and enthusiasm was the essence of the night. Live renditions of tracks from the critically acclaimed The '59 Sound were certainly done justice. Expressing tales of family, love, life, loss and youth reeling in the audience all driven by this four piece's taut muscular rock n' roll rhythms. The Gaslight Anthem are as tight as any band I've seen this, or even last year.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:

"The songs, the best of them, are adventures in the dark, incidents of wasted fury. Tales of kids born to run who lose anyway.…taut rock songs about people crushed by family, by lust, by living in this world every day…The promise and the threat of the night; the lure of the road; the quest for a chance worth taking and the lust to pay its price; girls glimpsed once at 80 miles an hour and never forgotten; the city streets as the last, permanent American frontier. We know the story: one thousand and one American nights, one long night of fear and love…there are no idle thoughts about how nice true love might be."
Rolling Stone magazine, various Springsteen reviews 1972-1981

Gaslight Anthem Live

So now that we’ve the mandatory Springsteen references out of the way, let’s get on with reviewing The Gaslight Anthems gig in The Academy. I first stumbled upon The Gaslight Anthem with the release of their album “The ‘59 Sound” and was surprised to learn that this was not a new band with a debut album. In fact, they had already been around for 2 and a half years with their debut album Sink or Swim under their belt. The success of this band is not unexpected. Combining old school clean-cut rock n' roll spiced with definite elements of hardcore, pop-punk, rockabilly & classic soul certainly gives them commercial appeal which is catching up with the (justly deserved) critical acclaim of The '59 Sound.

The night began with supporting musician Frank Turner, armed solely with his guitar and microphone. Do not be fooled by the sheared down, no-frills approach Turner takes to his music. His presence immediately impregnated the venue and he engaged the audience with his punk melodic laments telling of life's hardships.

The Gaslight Anthem kicked off their set with Great Expectations from The ‘59 Sound. Their simple songs of small-town, blue-collar America immediately brought to life with high energy and enthusiasm. Their own brand of crisp anthemic pop cloaked in precise yet fuzzy, ragged sound, primed to stomp through the venue, driven by hardcore punk and melodies. In particular leading man Brian Fallon, whose neck with veins like ropes plunging out in all directions, urgently delivers a tale of hopes and dreams. It is blatant that this band are passionate about their music. Every song off album The ‘59 Sound was featured in their set with a few choice tracks of Sink or Swim and their recent EP Senor and the Queen.

Being the first Irish gig The Gaslight Anthem have performed, they certainly were well received on this sell out night by their youthful adoring crowd, although some of the crowd seemed to only more than vaguely familiar with the singles. However this didn’t seem to deter the band, least of all Brian Fallon who spent much of the nights show with an incredulous smile on his face. Those who cannot hear farther than the lazy "Springsteen-clone" comparisons would have been surprised to witness them begin Senor and the Queen with their rendition of  'This Is A Man’s World', just one of tonight's ventures into classic American soul.

Towards the end of their set, Fallon pondered out loud about his working class New Jersey upbringing speaking of his hardworking Irish Father and Polish Mother with unmistakable pride before launching into Backseat where enthusiastic clapping engulfed the audience. An encore ensued featuring a song each from both albums and their EP, with the band further reveling in the American songbook through the brief charming snippet of  Stand By Me which prefixed I’da Called You Woody, Joe. The highlights of this gig included Boomboxes and Dictionaries, The '59 Sound, The Old White Lincoln, Even Cowgirls get the Blues and The Backseat, all fantastic live performances. A dip in the tempo came with The Navesink Bank which certainly didn’t falter the audience.

A question of whether this band can in fact step out of the Springsteen shadow that has been cast over them to become a band in their own right is debatable. Their music perhaps lacks some particularly unique element. However, if you can stop yourself from staring at this band through Springsteen shaped glasses they are certainly one of the brightest around at the moment, and definitely worth a see.

Clare Shanahan


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
03

 Franz Ferdinand (live in Dolan's Warehouse, Limerick)

Franz Ferdinand

Review Snapshot: 400 lucky ducks witness Franz Ferdinand 'warm up' for their '09 tour with considerable aplomb. Watch out Europe.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
The anticipation amongst the lucky 400 in Dolan’s Warehouse ahead of this ‘warm-up’ gig was that the Glaswegian art-rockers would use this chance to rehearse material from their new Tonight album with one eye on their upcoming European tour. Not so. They played what seemed like every memorable moment from their already-classic debut album, kicking off the setlist with a stomping rendition of ‘Come On Home’. Alex Kapranos made sure he reminded the crowd where they were with frequent ‘Thank you Limerick’s between songs, but whether he was aware the Terry Wogan namedropped in ‘Dark of the Matinee’ is himself a Limerickman was unclear. However a spontaneous crowdsurf at the end of the gig did ensure Kapranos left Shannonside with an intimate knowledge of the city Wogan left behind!

Kapranos’ authentic vocal talent was a constant but what also impressed was his frenetic double-jobbing as lead guitarist, especially during ‘Do You Want To’. A banging ‘Take Me Out’ was played surprisingly early in the set, followed by a string of new songs (DISCLAIMER: I haven’t heard the new album yet. For shame.) Recent single Ulysses was warmly received by the crowd - a welcome endorsement for FF in these days of Kings Of Leon daytime-radio overkill. The encore comprised a subtle-then-manic delivery of their best-ever song Jacqueline, a surprisingly tasteful 4-man assault on the drumkit at the end of another newbie, and regular curtain-closer ‘Burn This City’.

Lasting Impact: The bulk of the tiny crowd remained subdued throughout – even for Take Me Out – which annoyed this reviewer given the rarity of gigs like this and the energy FF put in to their performance. In fairness, it was stadium-rock in a room the size of a small community hall - what more reason do you need to rock out? As for Franz themselves, here was a band that cared more about playing their favourite songs rather than pushing their new record, and the enjoyment of such was clear to see on their faces at the end of the gig. Having seen them play in Lansdowne Road 4 years ago, its great to think they still give me the same buzz. It was a privilege to be there. Keep the big guns coming, Dolans.

Ronan Lawlor


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
23

Carly Sings (live in La Bellevilloise, Paris)

Review Snapshot: Despite incessant audience noise and diabolical sound problems, which she really should just put aside, Carly Sings pulls out a strong performance of fine material - including some promising new songs.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:
Carly SingsTonight’s venue, a trendy music bar in the slightly bohemian 20th district of Paris, is full of lively punters out for a good time. For Carly Sings, this is bad news indeed.

You see, La Bellevilloise is fashionable because its clientele like to hang out here and chat with friends while having live music in the background as sonic wallpaper. By the bar it’s standing room only, as packed and noisy as a Friday evening train station. The disinterested audience din is overwhelming, quite possibly the loudest we’ve ever heard at a concert.

More used to dedicated Dublin listeners, Carly Blackman is up against it tonight. You’d hardly call her loud, confrontational or in-your-face. Even before the show starts she already looks nervous – we reckon she has family and friends in the audience. Added to that, her live set-up (with Ben and Guillaume on guitar and bass/cello) is plagued by technical problems; at some moments the sound seems to have been mixed with a blender. While singing, Blackman glares up at where the back wall meets the ceiling, and you wonder how someone can sing so clearly through gritted teeth. This wouldn’t be a good time to go bothering her about anything.

Between songs, though, she relaxes and tries to make light of the night’s adversity. When she asks the crowd to stop talking, she’s half-joking – but only half-joking.

And yet, despite all this, Carly Sings puts on an enjoyable performance. Those tracks from ‘The Glove Thief’, her debut album, still sound beguiling. The musical mixture of pop, jazz, chanson française and bossa nova is rich and evocative, like a specially-blended tea from far-off lands. And her lyrics feature strong visual imagery that complement the sparse arrangements – in a room where it’s hard to be heard, such directness is all the more necessary and welcome. In particular, ‘George Emerson’ rises above the racket like a hot-air balloon.

One thing: for someone who’s spent a lot of time in Lyon and Paris, Blackman’s French isn’t great tonight. Apart from singing ‘L’Amour’, around halfway she gives up the between-song banter en français and continues in English. But she said she was tired. (Not that this is a language exam or anything. Just saying, like.)

Of more interest than her French level are her new songs. She closes the set with two: the folksy ‘No Good Girl’ and ‘Jason Rising’. Both are up to the high standard of her previous work and that bodes well for the second Carly Sings album, which should hopefully be released in September.

Difficult second album? It can’t be as hard on Blackman as this bloody concert!

Aidan Curran


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
Page 7 of 15First   Previous   2  3  4  5  6  [7]  8  9  10  11  Next   Last   

Search Articles

Nuggets from our archive

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