by / November 23rd, 2009 /

Atlas Sound, Whelan’s

‘Was that the time I played -Don’t Fear the Reaper’ for about twenty minutes, no? Oh yeah I think that was in Australia’’¦

Bradford Cox is in a reflective mood tonight, perhaps it’s the culmination of a never-ending touring schedule coupled with the ingestion of some -refreshments’ that’s leaving him suffering from de-ja-venue but whatever it is he’s in the mood to share, as he draws his giant parka closer under his chin and ponders a manner of things.

Cox has never been the most reluctant of artists, not one for a simple nod and bland -Thank you Dublin’, over the past year alone he has treated us to curious diatribes about -dead babies’ and -teenage bedroom walls’. This all seems to be part of the complex Cox mystique, the thoroughly modern musician using a myriad of technology to fuel the desire to destroy the space between audience and artist, a line that blurred in the beginning of Deerhunter only for it to dissolve completely with the advance leaking of Microcastle and his own personal photos. He is now a more cautious, confused character not completely abandoning the uncensored impression of the artist and the blood spitting tea-dress twirling of old but ultimately not as willing to divulge more than the odd irreverent anecdote which makes tonight’s ramblings even more bizarre.

His stream of consciousness includes the dominance of white faces in Irish audiences which leads him into jokingly discussing his own family’s racial heritage prompting one hilarious japester to call for Cox to show his -black ass’. Seeming to shake this comment aside Cox focuses his attention back to the music.

Perched on his chair armed only with his guitar, harmonica and box of looping and distorting tricks he should seem vulnerable without the hurricane of feedback and sheer volume and clutter of his Deerhunter cohorts but in fact this quaint set up leaves Cox sounding better than ever. The absence of this howl of chaos allows his voice to peal through the room with haunting clarity, stripping the brittleness away from tunes such as -My Halo’ and -Criminals’ transforming them from fragile hymns into forceful declarations. The bones of ambient noise still rattle throughout Cox’s gently strummed tunes with his delicate echo drenching reverb-steeped tracks like -Quarantined’ that unfurl like a lazy grin captivating the audience. This hypnotic haze bleeds into the elongated intro of -Walkabout’ which rises like a throbbing tumour tantalisingly close to erupting before Cox finally gives in and the familiar Dover’s sample is carefully plucked out causing hoots of recognition, although not as vibrant as on record its unstoppable effervescence still manages to inspire some shape throwing.

After the dark pop thrill of -Shelia’ paranoia seems to set in as he calls for the audience member filming his earlier comments to come up on stage so he can erase the tape, a sheepish Donnie Osmond a-like jumps up to have a little chat, it appears that Mammy Cox has gotten to grips with Youtube so all erroneous conversations must be destroyed. Panic over Cox decides he’d rather not leave after his encore, a triumphant version of -Logos’ so he continues with a ramshackle cover of Elizabeth Cotten’s -Reuben’ as the house lights are flicked on and the entering Whelan’s club crowd are greeted with the spectacle of the devoted cheering on our hooded hero waving his skinny fists overhead as he exits the stage not before wailing ‘I’m sorry, did I ruin your night??’ a night he may not remember but we’re unlikely to forget.

Photos by Loreana Rushe.
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  • AstonishingSodApe

    A fine review. That was an excellent gig, one of the best I’ve seen all year.