Photos: Bríd O’Donovan
Between the showers of rain and hailstones, Cork is starting to take on a summery feel, and the Pav is a great summer destination. Downstairs it always feels like somewhere more accustomed to warmer climes, like a Spanish tourist caught shivering in an Irish heatwave. Upstairs is like somewhere you spend time when you should be out in the (imaginary) nice weather. Tonight I’m spending it in the company of Le Galaxie.
It’s business as usual tonight, and the zero-cent pricetag is at least encouraging a few extra punters to wander in and grab a drink in time to see support act Carried By Waves. The excellent visuals is an admission that a one man band isn’t much to look at, but it doesn’t matter as the man tucked behind launchpad, Macbook and guitar provides all the needed cerebral feed via the music. It’s forward-moving dance music for a long chilled out evening. He does a good job live of recreating the feel of his recorded tracks, and we have a half hour plus set of tunes that are spacey and melodic, but not too airy to float away meaninglessly, as an insistent beat keeps things grounded pleasantly beneath the live filtered vocals and rhythmic patterns he’s actively tapping out with his launchpad. The closing track, a cover of Talk Talk’s ‘Life’s What You Make It’, fits snugly with the original songs tonight and yet is faithful enough to the original. The set works great as an opener, whetting our appetites for what’s to come, and I’d be interested to see what Carried By Waves would do with a bit more time and the responsibility of headline billing.
Le Galaxie’s impending arrival has people dancing already to the fairly pedestrian between-bands filler music, and mercifully they take the stage before too long. Hood up, and centre stage Le Michael warms up by bouncing on the spot to get the blood flowing, before the band starts up with a distinctly Kraftwerk sounding buzzing keyboard. Very satisfying, but they don’t wear out the krautrock: plenty other bands are doing that now anyway, and Le Galaxie bring the sound around to something way more early Mute or Human League.
They don’t stop there, and their set is like a whistle stop tour of everything that the 80s, and beyond, has to offer in terms of dance music: we have David Byrne inflections with the vocal stylings, where Dave Gahan also gets a look-in; the free and easy keyboards of the early new wave synthpop bringing the melodies smoothly along; at one stage – I swear to God – they echo Stock Aitken and Waterman, and the first time Kylie reinvented herself as a sex kitten; before culminating in late 80s pumping house beats, nods to Daft Punk’s distorted vocals, and eventually (phew), having travelled a very different route, ending up somewhere near Hot Chip.
It’s a few songs into the set before the show gels in earnest, but when it does it’s pure joy. The live drums and bass from Le David and Le Alistair (L’Alistair?) add something very particular to this kind of music – a sense that it is being made right now, that it’s current and not just something prerecorded in a bedroom last February – and the band’s enthusiasm for the music is intact, and visible as Le Michael produces drumsticks to bang on his very own drum, and takes a cowbell and really does explore the stage space, ending up aloft the speaker stack by the time the gig is coming to a head.
Their positive vibe is great, and they keep such an upbeat momentum that everyone in the room (stony faced bouncer aside) seems to be enjoy themselves. The staccato vocals are at times lost in the mix, luckily the music is strong so it doesn’t matter too much, but a better mix, or a guest singer with a powerful set of lungs wouldn’t go astray. They finish (naturally) with’ Midnight Midnight’ off of Laserdisc Nights II (TUNE, seriously) and I’m sure an encore would have been on the cards if any more time was at their disposal.
Le Galaxie seem built for a festival set and last year’s Electric Arena lunchtime success is no surprise. Next, give them a late-night slot in a tent opposite a ho-hum main stage name act, and watch them slay.