Live Review: Jack White, live and in person, at Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London, Thursday 3rd July, 2014

One of only a handful of indoor dates on the current stretch of his tour in support of second solo LP proper Lazaretto, Jack White’s seamless blend of folk, blues, country, hip- hop and old- school rock n’ roll reveals an artist who combines a wealth of experience with youthful hunger and enthusiasm, writes Philip Cummins

Jack White attacking his Fender Telecaster. Photo: David Swanson. Source: Jackwhiteiii.com

Jack White attacking his Fender Telecaster. Photo: David Swanson. Source: Jackwhiteiii.com


Originally published by Entertainment Ireland. To read the original, please click here.

SPEAKING to BBC Radio One’s Zane Lowe during a live session prior to tonight’s sold out show in Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo, Nashville based Detroit native Jack White vented his frustration of playing his sets at festivals and outdoor venues, particularly in light of his recent performance at Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage, which received mixed reactions from critics and fans alike: “I guess I’m trying to put on a club show for 100 people in front of 100,000 people”,  conceded 39 year- old White.

Previously, White has described festivals as “a necessary evil”. In an interview with BBC news during September 2012, White claimed “I don’t get excited about festivals – they’re not my favourite place to play…everyone’s drinking and lazing in the sun and walking around and that’s a fun thing for them but it’s not interesting for me.”

Tonight’s show, then, finds White in his natural habitat; an indoor venue packed with a capacity crowd of 8,500 dedicated fans who snapped up tickets within minutes of the show going on general sale, the show selling out almost immediately.

Jack White jamming with his band of seasoned players. Image: Dan Swanson. Source:

Jack White jamming with his band of seasoned players. Image: Dan Swanson. Source: jackwhiteiii.com

Tearing into ‘Sixteen Saltines’ from 2012’s excellent Blunderbuss, White’s band of seasoned players perform comfortably at their own rhythm, mixing up the tempo of the song and improvising naturally and with little labour. White Stripes fan favorites ‘Astro’, ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’ and ‘Hotel Yorba’ follow, the latter of which is given a “Nashville” treatment with added fiddle and pedal steel, gaining more character and depth with additional musical arrangements.

Similarly, tonight’s version of ‘Top Yourself’, a White tune from The Raconteurs’ Consolers of the Lonely, gains more intensity and more complexity. It’s the effortless blend of bluegrass arrangements with White’s ferocious guitar tones that make a fine example of White’s negotiation of the Americana roots music of Nashville and the garage rock of his native Detroit. The same is true of ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As Your Told)’ from 2007 White Stripes record Icky Thump, the title track of which also blends beautifully with the title track of recent second solo album proper Lazaretto.

Throughout tonight’s set, it becomes more and more apparent that styles win out: the rap- rock of ‘Lazaretto’; the frenetic blues of ‘Ball and the Biscuit’ (recorded at London’s Toe Rag studios during sessions for 2002 classic Elephant); the Nirvana- inspired ‘Steady, As She Goes’; the Let it Bleed– era Rolling Stones- inspired ‘Just One Drink’; the funk- blues of Lazaretto opener ‘Three Women’, based on Blind Willie McTell’s ‘Three Women Blues’.

Jack White holding his beloved 1950′s Kay Hollowbody Archtop guitar during a break in set closer 'Seven Nation Army'

Jack White holding his beloved 1950′s Kay Hollowbody Archtop guitar during a break in set closer ‘Seven Nation Army’. Image: Dan Swanson. Source: jackwhiteiii.com

While ‘Seven Nation Army’, arguably White’s best known track, is becoming old hat as a set – closer, it’s the sheer breadth of White’s musical references and, most importantly, his interpretation of those references that marks him out as a true original.

Tonight, as with last night’s secret, medical- themed show in a basement just off London’s Strand,  after which White theatrically collapsed on stage and later wheeled off stage on a stretcher, it’s clear that White is occupying the same ground as Tom Waits did in the 1980s; an uncompromising artist and performer, gloriously and blissfully out of step with modern tastes and trends and a showman  who makes his peers look like wallflowers. We’re lucky to have him.

Jack White and his band bid the audience good night after a triumphant show at London's Hammersmith Apollo.

Jack White and his band bid the audience good night after a triumphant show at London’s Hammersmith Apollo.  Image: Dan Swanson. Source: jackwhiteiii.com


Set List

  1. Sixteen Saltines
  2. Astro (The White Stripes song)
  3. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
  4. High Ball Stepper
  5. Lazaretto
  6. Hotel Yorba
  7. Temporary Ground
  8. Ramblin’ Man / Cannon / Ramblin’ Man / Cannon
  9. Icky Thump
  10. Missing Pieces
  11. Three Women
  12. Love Interruption
  13. Blunderbuss
  14. Top Yourself
  15. I’m Slowly Turning Into You
  16. Holiday in Cambodia (Dead Kennedys cover) (snippet)
  17. Ball and Biscuit

Encore:

  1. Just One Drink
  2. Alone in My Home
  3. You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)
  4. Hello Operator
  5. Would You Fight for My Love?
  6. Broken Boy Soldier
  7. Blue Blood Blues
  8. Steady, As She Goes
  9. Seven Nation Army


What Twitter Thought

Live review: Real Estate, live at Whelans, Tuesday 27th May, 2014

Brooklyn based five piece Real Estate.

Brooklyn based five piece Real Estate. Image: Facebook

Originally published by Entertainment Ireland on Wednesday 28th May, 2014. To read the original, please click here.

TONIGHT’S capacity audience at Whelans (Promoters moved the gig from The Workman’s Club to Whelans, due to demand) is good news for anyone who was under the impression that guitar music is dead. Support act Jet Setter, flanked by Villagers drummer James Byrne, are an apt choice of support act, channeling the same compacted pop aesthetics of tonight’s headline act.

Arriving on stage at 9:35pm to a capacity audience, Brooklyn- based New Jersey natives Real Estate ease into their seventeen song set with ‘April’s Song’, a beautiful, instrumental track from 2014’s Atlas, which must certainly be one of the year’s finest albums.

Following up swiftly with a salvo of ‘Crime’, the opening track from the second side of Atlas, ‘Past Lives’, a dreamy pop song also lifted from Atlas, as well as fan favourite ‘Easy’, the opening track off of 2012’s breakthrough album second album Days, it becomes more and more clear that Days and Atlas are two parts of a trilogy, the songs from both albums blending seamlessly with one another in a set that reveals the band’s consistency for writing snappy tunes.

Throughout the set, it’s hard not to notice singer / guitarist Martin Courtney, who despite his efforts to play down his role at centre stage is a remarkable presence. Something of a reluctant frontman, Courtney is a mish- mash of almost every young, anxious, bookish, suburban, indie- rock male singer / songwriter of recent decades, recalling Death Cab For Cutie‘s Ben Gibbard, Pavement‘s Steve Malkmus, The Shins‘ James Mercer and, at times, IRS- era Michael Stipe. Just as on record, Real Estate’s sound is subtle and underpinned with only the slightest use of chorus / phaser effects pedals and arpeggiated chords that define the band’s jangly guitar pop.

Similarly, recently recruited drummer Jackson Pollis, towels covering his snare drum and tom- tom drums for a smooth, muffled drum sound, plays with the kind of simplicity and precision that suits the band’s tight, compressed pop songs. Somewhat aware of their reserved, meek image, the band playfully improvise on snippets of hard rock covers in- between songs. The most rapturously received song of the night, undoubtedly, is Atlas‘ flagship single, ‘Talking Backwards’; a wry take on communication problems in a relationship.

Real Estate won’t have a set full of dynamics and gear changes to sustain a two-hour set until the third instalment of their trilogy of suburbia- focused jangle pop. For those who missed out on tonight’s spellbinding display of natural, musical chemistry, however, a 22nd October gig at The Academy has recently been announced; further proof that Real Estate are the year’s hottest property.

Live review: Codes, Live at Whelan’s, Friday 30th May, 2014

Dublin four piece Codes, live at Whelans. Photo: Ruth Medjber

Dublin four piece Codes, live at Whelans. Photo: Ruth Medjber


Originally published by Entertainment Ireland on Tuesday 3rd June, 2014. To read the original, please click here.


IT’S
 hard not to watch Dublin four piece Codes- two members of which live in Dublin, another two based in London- and not recall Bono’s claim that U2 were always “a band of the future”. Melodic, uniquely 21st century electronica layers Codes’ anthems- in- waiting, some of which have clear nods to Achtung Baby- era U2, Doves and Snow Patrol.

Indeed, it’s the aura, more than anything, that Codes generate that recalls the aforementioned bands. Singer/guitarist Daragh Anderson’s opening arpeggiated notes, played through a Digitech Whammy IV pedal- favoured by the likes of Jonny Greenwood and Matt Bellamy- creates an intense, sci- fi- esque atmosphere that sets the tone for what follows. Drawing largely from 2009’s Trees Dream in Algebra, fan favourites such as ‘You Are Here’, ‘Cities’ and ‘This Is Goodbye’- the latter of which loyal fans belt out as if it if their life depended on it- make up the share of the setlist, just as loyal fans make up the share of the audience. The band, however, also treat fans to songs from AALTARS, their sophomore effort due later in the year. AALTARS‘ flagship single ‘Astraea’ signals at the band’s development over the three years since thier Choice- nominated début.

Mid- way through the set, one can’t help but feel that a clear formula for Codes’ sound and tunes is emerging, leading to the set to become somewhat predictable. It’s then that the band drop ‘Bleed Blue’, a song on which bassist Eoin Stephens and guitarist / keys player Raymond Hogge take to percussion duties on a slow- burning tune that climaxes with crashing drums, hinting at another dimension to the band’s sound.

Codes drummer Niall Woods, recruited into the band in 2012.

Codes drummer Niall Woods, recruited into the band in 2012. Photo: Ruth Medjber

In fact, it’s the drums, tonight, that set Codes apart from many Irish bands in their league. It’s clear that Codes’ recent addition, Niall Woods, who replaced Paul Reilly in Summer 2012, is the dynamo behind the band’s sound, his ability to shift between standard, 4/4, rock / pop rhythms and the polyrhythms so essential to the band’s sound being one of the key links between Codes’ fusion of stadium rock and electronica. It’s uncertain as to whether second album AALTARS will overshadow the success of their EMI- supported, Choice nominated début, but tonight sees a band very comfortable in the direction that they’re taking and who have a definite sense of what it is they are about.

Live Review: Franz Ferdinand @ The Olympia Theatre, Dublin

Originally published by Entertainment Ireland on 24 March, 2014. To read the original, please click here

Franz Ferdinand on flying form in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre

TEN YEARS ON since THAT debut, Franz Ferdinand are not the Young Turks they were when they burst onto the scene in 2004: in 2014, Franz Ferdinand are not the trendiest name to drop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, nor London’s Brick Lane.

What Franz Ferdinand are- and how easily we can take Glasgow’s finest for granted- are a band brimming with tight tunes: structurally solid songs with more muscular riffs, pulsating rhythms, sing-along choruses and witty lyrics than at which you can shake an irony- laden t-shirt.

Opening with ‘Bullet’, the opening song of the second side of 2013’s return- to- form Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, following 2009’s misstep Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, Kapronos and Co. immediately follow ‘Bullet’ with two cuts from Franz Ferdinand– ‘The Dark of the Matinée’ and ‘Tell Her Tonight’- before returning to Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action territory with standout single ‘Evil Eye’. The opening four tunes, quite rightly, align their 2004 debut with their latest effort, both albums being two sides of the same coin.

Indeed, the Domino Recording Company band draw eight songs from Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, six from Franz Ferdinand, and four each from You Could Have It So Much Better and Tonight: Franz Ferdinand.

What the band demonstrates best at tonight’s sold out show, however, is their intuitive understanding of dynamics. The opening stompers are soon followed by tender ballads ‘Fresh Strawberries’ (Right Thoughts…) and ‘Walk Away’ (You Could Have It So Much Better), confidently omitting ‘Eleanor Put Your Boots On’, their gorgeous 2006 single, stressing the sheer range of their song- writing.

Better still, the band eschew insincere banter with the audience, instead milking the hooks, phrases and middle eights of standout songs with no small amount of sardonic showbiz schmaltz. The opening phrase to ‘Take Me Out’ is played to galleries for well over half a minute, the breaks in the ending hook of a rapturously received ‘Do You Want To’ are repeated at almost a dozen times than the recorded version and the slow- tempo verses of ‘The Dark of the Matinée’ are stressed to give that song’s barnstorming chorus more punch and vigour.

The most telling moment of tonight’s gig, however, comes during the preamble to ‘Fresh Strawberries’, a self- deprecating, tender tune from Right Thoughts… that chronicles the fall from grace of a once thriving mid- noughties band. Dedicating ‘Fresh Strawberries’ to tonight’s support act, Leeds quintet Eagulls, Kapranos sings the opening verse of We are fresh strawberries / Fresh burst of red strawberries / Ripe, turning riper in the bowl / We will soon be rotten / We will all be forgotten / Half remembered rumours of the old.

Of course, no- one here, tonight, really believes that Franz Ferdinand are noughties survivors; rather, I expect they believe that the Glaswegian lads done good have still got the right tunes, right moves and are hitting all the right notes.

Live review: Rocket From The Crypt – Live at The Button Factory, Dublin, Saturday December 7th, 2013

Originally published on State.ie. To read the original, please click here.

San Diego rock band Rocket From The Crypt

IN WHAT CAN HARDLY BE DESCRIBED AS A CASH- INRocket from the Crypt reunited in December 2012, beginning their first dates of their reunion tour in April 2013.

Championed back in the 90s by the likes of Dave Grohl – who is consistently linked to on/off rumours about producing Rocket from the Crypt’s comeback record- the San Diego band showed oodles of promise when they signed to Interscope in the mid-90s, even cracking the top 20 in the UK with ‘On a Rope’ and appearing on Top of the Pops; unheard of for a band borne out of the west coast hardcore scene of the 80s/early 90s. Their 1995 breakthrough record, Scream, Dracula, Scream!, sounds as fresh and vital, today, as it did back then.

Tonight, there’s no shortage of greying rockabilly quiffs and RFTC t-shirt-clad fans who would probably claim to have bought the original, red-coloured vinyl – deleted immediately after release – of 1995’s once ultra rare, though since reissued, Hot Charity. The band’s set caters, mainly, to those loyal and fervent fans of the band, playing cuts from Scream, Dracula, Scream!, as well as 1998’s RFTC and 2001’s Group Sounds, all of which are well represented tonight. In fact, many of the songs from each album are performed in the same sequence as the records: ‘Straight American Slave’ and ‘Carne Voodoo’ from Group Sounds open the set, while the highlight of the night is a groove in the set created by ‘Middle’, ‘Born in ‘69’, ‘On a Rope’ and ‘Young Livers’, which elicit the loudest cheers of the night from an otherwise reserved audience. An incredible version of ‘I’m Not Invisible’ is a reminder, like the best cuts from Scream, Dracula, Scream!, of the band’s ability to write instantly catchy songs that get the audience on their side from the get-go.

Clad in black shirts featuring Chinese dragons, the band members look like a gang and, in 2013, they must seem an anomaly among younger bands, now, that lack the uniformity and that sense of identity that was has been central to Rocket from the Crypt as a unit. Unfortunately, the central problem throughout tonight’s set, however, is the sound. What set Rocket from the Crypt apart from any other American rock band of their time was their use of a brass section in the form of saxophonist Apollo 9 (Paul O’Beirne) and trumpeter JC 2000 (Jason Crane), both of whose instruments are far too low in the mix to have the impact that they have on record. Similarly, frontman Speedo’s vocals are slightly shot from previous gigs on their recent tour and, again, his vocals are consistently overshadowed by the guitars and by the drums.

An extended version of ‘Come See, Come Saw’, again, lacks the punch and power of the brass section, though the band use the recurring bass riff as an opportunity to loosen up the set and make it seem loose and unpredictable. Speedo interacts with the audience in irony- laced showbiz theatrics, including directing the audience into dance routines.

Eschewing such bravado, Speedo salutes the audience for one last time during the night. “Thanks for not forgetting about us”, he says as he parts from the stage, somewhat confirming the band’s status as 90’s rock survivors. And if rumors of a Grohl- produced comeback album do come to fruition, it won’t be the last time Speedo is saluting his audience from the stage.