Review of their gig in the Ambassador, Dublin, 3rd October 2001
I was looking forward to the gig. No really, I was. Mercury Rev were supposed to be brilliant live. Reviews I had read about previous shows all talked about the 'brilliant sound' coming at you like a wall of noise. The sound in the city's newest gig venue, The Ambassador wasn't half bad either, and so expectations were running high for this.
Unfortunately however, we don't always get what we wish for. The show was a serious disappointment. The audience was full of students, old enough to remember as far back as Deserter's Songs but no further. Probably a good thing as that is all Jonathan and the lads played. For the first hour and half of the gig you could have sat at home with stereo turned to about 5 with 'Deserter's Songs' and 'All is Dream' on random play. Nothing from 'Boces' or 'Yerself is Steam', or if they did play anything I was in the loo at the time. The sound wasn't what I expected. The wall of sound was more of an MDF partition.
At about 11 o'clock they finally played something pre-'Deserter's Song's' and broke into Car Wash Hair, again very disappointing to hear live. If wasn't until 'Opus 40' (the one before the encore) that suddenly the sound level upped to deafening proportions. This was more like it. Stood 10 feet from the speaker stack all night you expect to be blown away, they didn't bother doing that until the end.
A student in a black bandana started dancing to the screeches and caterwauls coming off-stage. Bless her, Opus 40 she loved but she didn't recognise Car Wash Hair. The crowd went mad. 'Fuckin' great gig eh?' No actually, the last 20 minutes were what had been expected for the whole gig. The first hour and a half was simply someone hitting play on the CD player. A serious case of quantity over quality.
The lads have this down to a fine art. Play a mediocre gig all night, then turn up the volume at the end so that the bass squeezes our hearts and our whole body vibrates and the drunken punters go away thinking it was that good all night. Disappointing, I can think of better ways to spend 25 quid.