Temple Bar Music Centre, Dublin, Feb 24th 2001
Sure enough a packed Temple Bar Music Centre is a far cry from the forty thousand strong crowd attracted by last August's Witnness festival where they played a main stage set. But from Relish's point of view, a stage is a stage no matter how big or small and last Saturday afternoon in the TBMC, Blast 2 may as well have been Woodstock.
Understandably Relish are being raved about, with the imminent release of their debut album 'Wildflowers' (release date 16/03/2001), they are being saturated with media attention. This could simply be due to the fact that Wildflowers could very well be the best release from an Irish band this year (keeping in mind it will be strongly contested by the Frames "For the Birds" record, 02/04/2001). Produced by acclaimed producer John Leckie (the man behind Radiohead's 'The Bends'), 'Wildflowers' may in fact only have one flaw, that it may not match up to the Relish live experience. The Blast 2 gig was not surprisingly another glimpse of what true rock'n'roll should really sound like, appealing to all the usual "Blasters" who range from hardened rockers and musos to punks and metallers.
Relish are soulful with steady melodies, but at the same time are not afraid to let loose and just rock. The chunky Zep styled riffs of 'Heart Shaped Box' splashed with the bluesy and harmonious 'Let it Fly' were enthralling as well as energetic, they managed to keep the audience bubbling, but every so often they would tear into a blistering chorus and the crowd would boil over. There is not necessarily a "retro" sound from Relish, it just seems that they enjoy playing their own brand of velvety rock and roll smoothed out with a dash of soul. They have sculpted this style over the past four years or so, not conforming to any trends has even caused them to shed two members and for Ken to take over the role of lead vocalist. Looking back now I'm sure they'll agree that it was a very wise move.
They closed their set with Rainbow Zephr, the gospel sounding ballad with a loud, solid, steady drumbeat and a huge chorus which makes it an instant feel good anthem, similar to Lenny Kravitz's 'Let Love Rule'. Relish left the stage amid roars for an encore and all they could do was oblige. Among the three encores was 'Heather', an upbeat and fast paced little pop ditty with a slight rock edge, a catchy chorus and a funky guitar lick, I'd watch out for this one as a single, it's almost too good. And with that Relish were gone, making way for TURN, and as I expected... mayhem ensued.
With 'Wildflowers' due for release in March, the nation-wide success of the singles that have been released (in particular 'Rainbow Zephr'), the staunch fanbase that they are currently building and sheer talent that they are blessed with, Relish will soon be one of the world's most dangerous bands.
On a bad day Relish groove like the Rolling Stones, on a good day they groove like Relish.