Review of their gig in Whelan's, Dublin, 29th November 2001
It's been quite a journey for the brothers Wall. Joe and Steve had two number one albums in Ireland with the former Great White Hope of Irish pop music, the Stunning, only for the band to break up in 1994. The Walls emerged soon after and, after a lost two years in London with Colombia Records, the band's first LP 'Hi-Lo' was released independently in May 2000.
Playing material mostly from this album, the Walls took the stage following the support of Ollie Cole of Co. Meath three-piece, Turn. Cole, although the possessor of a great voice and some nice tunes, seemed a little out of place. His remark that he isn't used to 'all this lone gunslinger stuff' summed it up. To be fair to Cole, he had only been confirmed as support at the last minute and this isn't his day job (due to the tragic death earlier in the day of Mic Christopher, support band Babelfish had pulled out. The night's concert was dedicated to Mic).
The Walls - with the concert going live over the internet on www.CLUAS.com - opened with 'New Born Baby', a brilliant song which might have been written simply to open gigs like this. Fast, loud and with a bit of funk, it set out the plan from which the Walls rarely strayed - upbeat pop music. Looking comfortable and confident, it was immediately clear that this lot knew what they were doing.
In front of Tallaght drummer Rory Doyle, the crowd watched the brothers and Carl Harms, keyboardist, guitarist and sampler. Where Joe and Steve Wall were quietly self-assured, Harms was the focal point. Liverpudlian Harms is a tiny smoking ball of energy. As soon as the organ blared into 'New Born Baby' he was away. Head flying back and forwards, moshing and dancing, blue smoke everywhere, he was central to the live performance.
The Walls aren't trying to break any boundaries or convince anyone that they are the messiahs of Irish music. They seem happy to play to their strengths - simple, guitar-based pop songs. Harms adds drum loops and samples but the end result is the same. The Whelan's crowd didn't see any soul-searching or a band trying to find itself. Nor did the Walls pretend to be carrying the world on their shoulders.
This attitude served the band well tonight. Some of the songs midway through the set, however, seemed to just plod along, not really going anywhere. The problem facing any band with a straightforward approach to rock music is that the songwriting has to be spot-on. If not, as with some of the Walls' songs, the band enters the domain currently occupied by the Stereophonics; annoying, sloppy and worst of all, boring.
But, overall, the Walls are above this. Considering that Joe and Steve Wall have been around the block a couple of times before, nothing less could be expected. The encore was excellent. The crowd was not only moshing but dancing, a rare occurrence in Whelan's.
The band finished with the classic Stunning song, 'Brewing Up A Storm', undoubtedly the best song of the night. This is of no shame to the Walls, however, as very few Irish rock bands have a song of such strength.
The Walls, as a result of the brothers' time spent gigging the Irish circuit, are an impressive live act. If the band can cast off the hindrance of a few below-average songs, the hierarchy of Irish music awaits.
The concert reviewed above was promoted by CLUAS.com and the entire gig was broadcast live on the internet on the CLUAS website. The webcast services were provided bywww.webmdedia.ie. Click below to view actual footage of 4 songs performed at the gig, as broadcast live on the night:
(Note: You will need to have Real Player installed on your PC to view this
video footage from the gig. It can be downloaded for free fromwww.real.com)