Live Photos: Bríd O’Donovan
Shell to Sea are an education. The activist movement protest against one of our leading national disgraces, which is the legacy of consecutive Irish governments to put personal vested interest over and above the national interest as long as they get some personal wealth out of the equation.
This is a matter of record at this Post-Mahon, Post-Moriarty point in time. The only questions are why are the current government insisting on pursuing policies which were formed by easily-swayed, disgraced politicians back in the 80s? And why have the current administration been so keen to divest Ireland’s remaining offshore exploration licenses under the same poor terms as if oil prices are not going through the roof?
These questions aside, tonight is mainly about the music – and it’s great to see such support on display this Thursday night by Cork’s music community – acts and crowd alike.
The gig is slotted to begin at 10pm but the line-up is so packed that Tree Sleepers are on at half 9 just so everyone can fit in. When I get to the venue, they’re already onstage 10 minutes, but there’s already plenty here to appreciate them. Tree Sleepers are all dreads, beards, army boots and attitude. They deliver a relentless good time beat that opens the night well. LJ Devlin is the mainstay, her confident vocal delivery putting her somewhere between early Siouxsie and moving towards Corinne Tucker on their closing track.
The band’s altogether-now shouty choruses make me wish I knew the words to sing along to songs like ‘Getting Stupid’ and ‘Can’t Stop The Rot’. For that track, the banjo player switches to sax which gives you an idea of the eclectic vibe they have going.
Tonight’s MC, Wasps Vs Humans, is the glue between tonight’s bands, hosts the raffle, and even manages to spit out a couple of his own great pieces, The Killing of Celebrity Culture and Failure Got Stuck In Traffic. Worth checking out, if after tonight he shirks the inevitable advances of headhunters from the bingo master and raffle announcer industries.
Half Man Part Bicycle come on next. From the first song’s funky blast of rock, ‘Shake Your Bones’, it’s clear that this is a front man that’s not afraid to throw some shapes. Or himself, off the stage. They show a more fun side in the second song, getting that bizarre carnival vibe going, like the kind of thing you catch at the Crane Lane on a recklessly late drunken night and don’t quite remember the following day.
Next song we’re switching again, going noisier, full of guitar effects that would normally need ten to thirty minutes to resonate, but get two right here. This is a band with lots of good ideas – maybe too many, at least for one set. We’ll also get songs kind of like Syd Barrett does ska, and another which is Jello Biafra with a surf music backing, no joke. They play like their life depends on it, as if this is the last gig on earth. But you know, not everything need be packed into one show. Lads, you will have other gigs, longer ones and – fuck it – other bands if you want. You don’t have to crowbar everything into the here and now.
Still, vocalist Kevin Cummins provides a great finale with a fully intentioned dive from the stage smack onto the dancefloor. Bam! He gets up and keeps singing like nothing happened. After the show, he hobbles past towards the bar, sore but happy. Later on I spot him again, not so happy. Shit, I think he really hurt himself.
The bands so far have kept the stage fully occupied with multitudes of players and divebombing frontman antics. LAMP are a very different offering. Their presence as a three piece offers plenty of space onstage, which suits their sparse popping beats and jazzy, mathy playing. This is satisfyingly precise playing, which affords the lead singer/guitarist room for howling odd melodies.
They keep the mental rhythm going through most of each song, but then show an even keener sense of timing to know when to release the crowd into a big, almost 4/4, riff that you can furiously headbang to. Kneel down and worship the power of the riff.
Next up is well renowned Trumpets of Jericho, who have released a new album this year, which is reviewed elsewhere on this site (http://wearenoise.com/index.php/2012/03/trumpets-of-jericho-songs-like-an-alum-ut-nor-really-benthos-records/). ToJ bring a very particular sense of style to bear.
You could say it’s new wave, but apart from the clothes and the synths you’d be hard pressed to find their counterparts in the early 80s, other than maybe a bit of vocal stylings via PIL. I also don’t see the krauty influence so much. Possibly it’s been put through a blender, not necessarily a bad thing. With such a full night’s music, a lull was inevitable at some point.
Listening to their recorded output lead me to expect greater things for the live experience than I got tonight, but I’m not ready to write them off. Maybe I wasn’t getting enough of the keys to balance the raspy guitars? Maybe they’re just not for me? Or maybe as a band that bring a unique feel to their music, they have much more to offer? I’m staying tuned.
Hope Is Noise close out the evening with a storming set, we get machine gun delivery of a mix of older tunes and tracks off the new album. What can you say about Hope is Noise that hasn’t been said already? Their songs reflect their myriad of influences but every track has their distinct sound tattooed onto it.
They never stray too far from a dark melody, and no-one does the ‘surge’ like they do. With every song they let loose a blistering attack, a swell that pulls you along and makes you happy/sad/angry but you’re not sure why, a bit like Jägermeister. Tonight’s guest mystery drummer is bear chested and bemasked – I hope he can breathe in there and isn’t accidentally waterboarding himself with sweat. If he is in difficulty, he’s not letting it seep into his drumming.
Tonight’s show culminates in the great new single, the dark, twisted vibe of ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’, from This used to be a laugh; and they return for a quick encore of ‘Two Gods Short’. The only complaint I have about their set tonight is that it’s way too short. All the more reason why I’m gonna have to see them again soon.