Monday, April 27, 2009
Oliver Cole, Alphastates & Others (live in Radio City, Dublin)
Review Snapshot: There's something different about Oliver Cole these days, and not just the use of his full forename. A happier Cole headlined a Revolver night with a multiude of new songs and was ably supported by a number of old and new faces.
The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10
This was a strange gig for me. I'm normally the bloke that stands towards the back, arms crossed, doing my best to look non-plussed about the whole thing. Not tonight, as I'm forced up the front by over anxious friends, one of whom is a work colleague of one of the acts (consider that my declaration of interest). It did have it's benefits though, as you can see in Key Notes Set List Special.
Opening tonight was Gillian Verrachia. She easily overcame an inauspicious start (the stool she was supposed to sit on was set way too high for someone of her height) to produce a set full of, if not exactly groundbreaking, melodic and catchy alt-folk songs. She did, as did every act, have to face the challenge of being heard over a very noisy crowd, but is in possesion of a voice so powerful that it betrayed her diminutive frame. It would be interesting to hear Verrachia with the backing of a full band but it was an enjoyable start to night nonetheless.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Square Revolution. Perhaps I'm looking for too much, but I like my songs to have some sort of structure or, at the very least, a hint of melody. This Radiohead lite schtick does nothing for me and when a band has to resort to a t-shirt (albeit a very cool t-shirt) to get its biggest applause of the evening, you know you're in trouble.
Thankfully, things picked up quite quickly when The Gandhis took the stage and launched straight into an ode to Mr. Data (yes, him from Star Trek). I hadn't seen this band before but their blend of rock funk (and I mean funk in the positive, Howard Moon, sense of the word) is so insanely catchy that I found myself singing along to songs I didn't really know the lyrics of. I wasn't alone either as most of the audience seemed enraptured by this bands definite charms (think The Strokes merging with The Blizzards....but in a good way). Highlights of the set were new single Guy Like Me and Zaza.
Alphastates, complete with a visibly pregnant Catherine Dowling, were next on stage. Now, I'm a big fan of Alphastates debut, Made from Sand, but, it's been so long since I've seen the band live, I was worried they might not be able to blend their old songs with their new sound. I needn't have worried. Opening with Top of the World and Indian Sky the band then moved seamlessly into a new track, You Talked. As always, Alphastates are defined tonight by Dowling's distinctive vocals and the wall of sound created by the rest of the band. It is an impressive aural experience and one that manages to drown out the inane chatter coming from the back of the room. It might have been my imagination but it's quite possible that even Dowling's unborn child was rocking out.
The final act of the night is Oliver Cole, complete with full band. Cole's in his usual talkative mode but there's something else tonight, something I haven't seen in the Kells native since the halcyon days of TURN; he seems happy to be on stage. That being said, Cole apologises early on for the fact that we might not know a great deal of the songs he will be playing tonight. While that turns out to be true it is clear that Cole's long running muses of time (particularly an apparent loathing of wasting it) and love will dominate his forthcoming debut solo LP.
The last time I saw Cole, it was just him and his guitar, but tonight he has a full band in tow and the songs benefit from it, particularly the gorgeous Moth's Wing. The biggest cheer of the night comes when Cole and band launch into In Position and, for just a fleeting moment, the collective consciousness of the crowd recalls just how good a band TURN were and what a shame it is that they are no more. However, in Oliver Cole's new project, we have a more mature, reflective offering and, based on tonight's evidence, that's far from a consolation prize.