Cosmic Rough Riders / Electric Soft Parade
The Shelter, Dublin, Oct 2001
What is it with me and the sound in Vicar St? Every acoustic gig I've seen there has been outstanding. Every full electric performance has been pretty abysmal. Answers on a postcard please...
The night is opened by current indie darlings, Electric Soft Parade. A four piece from Brighton, they are getting heavy airplay on NME radio and thunder through a pretty tight set of 4 songs (and also become the first band I've ever seen to swap lead vocalist/guitarist and drummer through the course of a gig). They wrap up with a completely over the top version of recent single "Silent to the Dark". After about 7 minutes, we are thanked for listening - about four minutes later we are still listening, and quietly expecting a Zeppelin-esque bow to run across the fretwork. They certainly do enough to warrant further listening.
Next come the Cosmic Rough Riders. Their music is a hotpot of Neil Young country rock, Byrds jangly guitar and dippy-hippy lyrics with layered harmonies ?la "Pet Sounds". The open with recent Top 30 hit "Revolution in the Summertime" and the sound quality is truly shocking. All we can hear are drums. There are two guitars on stage but their presence can only be confirmed visually. This continues for fully six songs before improving marginally. The band know it, the audience know it (the blank stares at the sound desk) but the man in charge is oblivious. I can only surmise that passing familiarity with a band's material is not a requisite for the job.
They soldier on manfully through most of the "Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine" album, the best of which are "Glastonbury Song", "Melanie" & "Baby You're so Free" though from their timid stage presence and banter, they are clearly not enjoying the gig. The Shelter would like to present itself as "intimate" but in reality it is pretty much like a function room in your local. It may be fine for a single acoustic performer but decked out for a five piece, it just doesn't work. A single encore ends the night at twenty past ten and within five minutes, we are being herded into the main bar. You could probably sneak into the tail end of Aslan playing next door, but why add insult to injury.
So a muted, disappointing performance all round. It's such a shame when a band comes face to face with an audience intimate with their material and, for whatever reason, fail to connect. Still, another time, another venue...