Even though we’re still in darkest January, here we are at another sold-out midweek gig in Cork! Clearly the city’s music patrons have got their economic priorities in order. And tough luck if Friday was payday, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah had already sold out by last Monday.
Everyone is still getting their bearings as Neil Pennycook opens things up tonight fronting Meursault from Edinburgh, an indie folk offering with vocals, guitar, piano and even two drummers for a couple of songs. This is earnest emotional fare, slow pace shifting to no pace on occasion. Their request for a bit of hush for a particularly quiet number falls on partially deaf ears gathering for the main event, but his offer of whiskeys all round in return for a bit of ciúnas is right on the money. Tonight’s crowd is out for a beer and a bop, and from the noise at the bar it sounds like everyone’s getting the drinks in at Meursault’s expense.
Pics – Stephen McGovern
Not my cup of tea but plenty people are paying attention and appreciative by the time Meursault wrap up their set. They close with one of their loud and fast songs, just to show they can do it if they want to. Their closer finally makes good use of the dual drummers before they depart the stage. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back in Cork and they would be better off playing to a smaller crowd who were mainly there to see them and not waiting for a Main Event. Such are the trials of the support act.
By now the venue is packing up and before long Clap Your Hands bound on stage and get us off to a great start, with Alec Ounsworth launching into “Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away” and the band taking us straight to the point where their debut album hits its stride. They follow this with ‘Same Mistake’, bringing us right up to date with the opener from the latest album, Hysterical. Only 3 songs in and we already get to my favourite song of theirs, ‘Satan Said Dance’, which I’m delighted to hear but surprised – I had it pegged for nearer the end. I wonder if they’re at risk of peaking early.
After ‘Satan’ there’s an inevitable lull. CYHSY play some of their relatively calmer numbers, but as they work through about half a dozen songs off Hysterical, including the title track, ‘Ketamine’, and ‘In This House’, they are slowly building up a swirl of noise – not unpleasant – that starts sucking people into their sound more and more. Even with a great start to this gig under their belts, they still manage to continue going from strength to strength as the set progresses. By about halfway through, they have overcome some sound problems and are really hitting their straps. Up until this point the crowd has been a bit more reserved than many of them might have conducted themselves at the CYHSY show at last year’s Electric Picnic, but now the band return to the multiple secret weapons they have in their artillery – the songs from their 2005 debut album.
In quick succession the band powers through numbers such as ‘Over and Over (Lost and Found)’, ‘Maniac’ (from Hysterical), and ‘The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth’. These are dyed-in-the-wool indie classics, just as they were the first time you ever heard them. The crowd responds in kind, more and more being pulled towards the band, and while it’s taken them a while to get going, the dancefloor reaches fever pitch for the songs at the climax of the gig.
For ‘The Skin Of My Country Yellow Teeth’, everyone sings along not to the lyrics but to Ounsworth’s tweaky guitar riff by making high-pitched “owww-wowwwwow” sounds with their mouths, which is a moment of pure enjoyment. As a band it must be great to have songs like this in your repertoire; they are visibly having a great time playing these songs, with Robbie Guertin on keys and Tyler Sergeant on bass smiling at the response on the floor, where the wild abandon, bopping and fist-pumping has spread to envelop the entire dancefloor for ‘Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood’.
The maelstrom to the front leaves more room than earlier down the back towards the end of the gig, where couples are using it to dance together, while folks making their way around the venue can be seen smiling a little to themselves on hearing a favourite song. We get a two-song encore with ‘Siesta (for Snake)’ merely covering for the ultimate closer, ‘Heavy Metal’. This is really the environment to see a band like this, and while the newer songs are shown off well tonight, it’s great that the group recognise the power of that debut album.
No sense waiting for 10 years time when acceptance finally hits for the Don’t Look Back gigs. Any nostalgia value that might kick in later is beaten hands down hearing them now, sharing a sense of continuity with the newer songs, still fresh and vibrant – and infectious.