Johnny Marr Gig Review

Venue: The Academy, Dublin                                                                               Date: Wednesday, 27th March 2013

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Johnny Marr like presents. And if you were recording this gig on your phone, make sure fans going to his forthcoming Japanese shows know about this fact. After being given a gift of a t-shirt with Django Reinhardt on it, by Ger in the balcony, Marr came out wearing it for the encore, with his tailored suit jacket still keeping the style points up.

Opener ‘The Right Thing Right’ saw Marr cleverly change the lyrics to “Dublin citizen”, while the infectiously catchy ‘Generate! Generate!’ was dedicated to “people who think too much.” A rollicking rendition of ‘Lockdown’ cemented ‘The Messenger”s ability to sound just as excellent and engaging live as it is on record.

The crowd pleasers were unsurprisingly songs by The Smiths, ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ drew the most affection from the crowd and ‘London’ was a welcome surprise. Marr did Morrissey’s trademark crooning to perfection, while seamlessly throwing out riffs like they were the easiest and most obvious things in the world.

In the intimate surrounds of the full-capacity Academy Marr showed why he has become so legendary in the music industry; he has been a part of one the most influential bands in the history of British music, he has written some of the most incredible riffs that our ears have had the good fortune to hear and 31 years later is still writing and performing music that many new bands could only wish to have as part of the their back catalogue. Veering from nostalgia for The Smiths to the unfamiliarity of his most recent but lesser-known songs the crowd’s enthusiasm still remained throughout, while the raven haired guitarist left the stage beaming.

The Stone Roses Gig Review

Venue: Phoenix Park, Dublin.
Date: Thursday, 5th July 2012.

Feeling like an important part of musical history is unfolding right in front of you is surreal, that moment when you realise that the show you’re at is going to be remembered for a long time. As the strobe lights shone out into the audience while backdrops of fluorescent lemons complemented the stage it seemed a far cry from the band who split up in the 90s, sans John Squire and Reni, after their now infamous set at Reading ’96.

The setlist featured an equal mix of songs from their eponymous debut and ‘Second Coming’ , though the loudest cheers were saved for crowd-pleasers ‘Sally Cinnamon’, ‘This is the One’ and ‘She Bangs the Drums’.

Amid all the rumours surrounding the band after Reni’s walking out during a gig in Amsterdam the Roses managed to prove everyone wrong. It was evident that they enjoyed every moment on stage as part of one tight unit.

Most memorably the band launched into ‘Don’t Stop’, while it definitely wasn’t the best song of the night the fact that Ian Brown was willing to sing a song that’s ‘Waterfall’ in reverse was enough to gain massive amounts of respect.

The most sublime moments were during the instrumentals which followed certain songs, in particular for closer ‘I am the Resurrection.’ The instrumentals were peppered with moments where the band gelled together perfectly, where if Reni hadn’t been drumming, if Mani hadn’t been playing bass and Squire wasn’t playing guitar then it would’ve been incomplete.

Squire effortlessly flitted through flawless riffs before making the Hendrix-like move of dragging the neck of his guitar across the amps, adding to the already pumped atmosphere. The Stone Roses proved that they’re still important, that even after all of the doubts after a series of disastrous shows in the 90s they really can play live.

As the show drew to a close, and the last few chords of ‘I Am The Resurrection’ rang out, Ian Brown draped the tri-colour around Squire’s shoulders, and as their farewell the band hugged each other and joined hands. It’s very easy to be cynical about it, but the affection they showed each other seemed genuine and their live performances now are probably the best that they’ve ever been.

Even after navigating your way through the mud bath following signs for an imaginary exit you could still hear groups of people chanting Stone Roses songs. This is a show that won’t be easily forgotten, and unlike Reading, it’ll be for all the right reasons.

Phantom First Friday Gig Review

Venue:  The Academy, Dublin.
Date: Friday, 5th August 2011.

Givers: the band of the night

Amidst all the red and green lights emerged Tieranniesaur, a Dublin six piece with a Warpaint-like sound mixed with synthesisers. For the first few songs their combination of dreamy and shouty music was interesting, until it became swiftly apparent that all the songs seemed to be melding into one. There were no definable features, apart from the Bez-like creature who danced on the stage behind the band for a few songs, impressively dancing even to the slow parts.

So memorable was their performance that when Louisiana natives Givers took to the stage that they couldn’t remember the band’s name when they were giving them a shout out. The award for the most enthusiastic and energetic performance of the night goes to Givers. Having told the crowd to move to the previously empty front of stage because they travelled all the way over to Ireland, so the least we could do was walk a few steps nearer to them, gave the previously lacking atmosphere the kick it needed.

They powered through every song jumping around on stage and crashing drums like children who’d been let loose in a sweet shop, brimming with enthusiasm while interacting with the crowd. And, judging by the amount of times they mentioned how happy and thankful they were to be in Ireland, savouring every moment.

Headliners Cashier No. 9

Shortly afterwards came the time for the headliners, Cashier No. 9. Having received regular air play on Phantom has significantly raised the Belfast band’s profile, the night after this gig they were support to Bell X1 and Editors in Marlay Park. Sounding not dissimilar to Portugal the Man, the mellow but inviting tones of the band seemed to flow seamlessly from the stage.

In addition to the attention-grabbing music Cashier No. 9 also have the most dapper percussionist I have ever seen, wearing a bowler hat and waistcoat with pride. This is clearly a band to be taken seriously, and with each song gained more and more attention from the crowd and got better and better. Their catchy songs and engaging stage presence aren’t to be ignored.

But by the end of the night it was the pulsating drum beats and rhythmic sounds of Givers that were most memorable and impressive, and that seemed to be reverberating throughout the streets on the way home. Their eagerness and enthusiasm was astounding, and when a band are so confident and so into the music they’re playing it’s impossible not to feel the same way.

The Listening Post: Kristeen Young

“She frightens me,” I overheard the brunette in the front row quietly say between songs. To receive this kind of reaction is no mean feat, and when Kristeen Young took to the stage as the support act for Morrissey’s recent gigs in Dublin’s Vicar Street she definitely grabbed the attention, confusion, and fear, of the audience members. Thrashing out songs on her ceramically designed keyboard and wailing into the microphone with a look of both anger and determination on her face made her hard to ignore.

During her set you could hear mutterings of “PJ Harvey” and “Kate Bush”, and while the similarities are undeniable there’s also something very endearing and unique about Kristeen Young. Maybe it’s her catchy lyrics, maybe it’s her quirky fashion sense, maybe it’s her knack for hitting perfect notes when she sings. Whatever it is, it’s hard to put my finger on. But that’s one of the qualities of Kristeen Young, it’s difficult to adequately describe her music and on-stage presence, she seems like an anomaly that’ll be forever hard to grasp, and that’s perhaps one of the best things about her.

Paul Weller Gig Review

Venue: The Olympia, Dublin.
Date: Wednesday, 17th November 2010.

From the minute the lights went down and the meticulously styled Modfather Paul Weller strolled on stage it was clear the audience was already in the palm of his hand. No banter was needed, no cringey and overwrought “DUBLIN IS THE BEST CITY I’VE EVER PLAYED IN!” proclamations; once the familiar chords of ‘From the Floorboards Up’ rang out he’d already won the crowd over.

Playing a set that consisted mainly of songs from his most recent album ‘Wake up the Nation’, with raucous renditions of ‘Start!’ and ‘Shout to the Top’ thrown in for good measure, the Modfather proved that he still knows how to play to a crowd. He approached every song with unwavering enthusiasm and energy, switching between piano and guitar with amazing proficiency.

Amidst all of the fervent guitar playing and pulsating drum beats the atmosphere changed from electric to emotive when Weller went over to the piano to do a cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)’.

The versatility that has been displayed in countless Style Council, The Jam and Paul Weller’s own solo albums can translate to the stage equally as successfully as they did in his records.  All eyes were on Weller, and with a back catalogue as relevant to the present day as it was in the 80s, it seems he’ll still attract the same fandom and dedication for years to come.