A late-night Saturday gig by Ireland’s intelligent pop hero is the perfect thing to land in the middle of an Easter weekend. With the streets of Dublin almost deserted since Friday lunchtime, though, it’s a slow filling Button Factory as midnight strikes.
We last saw Daithi tear the roof off Dolly bar in Reykavik in a post-Iceland Airwaves gig in November ’13, and now with an album about to drop on June 6 he should be more than suitably amped for tonight. Pushing his start until nearer 1am was a good move and the room has a respectable amount of bodies in it, the lonely city souls who have shirked the exodus.
His warm-up takes about 30 seconds and blood-warm beats are flowing as he flits around on pads and triggers. Categorising Daithi isn’t easy but only because the feeling from it is so simple, and we know how hard it is to make simple work. If he wasn’t on stage, the room would be dancing club-like on the floor. But he’s a great focus too. Picking up the fiddle every now and again and generating a loop, he always carefully places it back and returns to the station in front of him. Lost in the music too, his blonde mop flops around and he’s a man in constant motion.
Liza Flume joins for the first guest vocal and adding the live voice just adds a great layer to things, visually as well as musically, and it’s boosted again later as Elaine Mai joins for ‘Carraroe’. Early on he’s mixing in some ‘Chameleon Life’, a, if not the Irish summer anthem of 2013 but yet the mood never rests between this and the vocal numbers. At one point we realise that we aren’t looking at the back of any laptop screen, nor is there one to be seen at all. This simple realisation just bolsters the on-spec belief in this guy’s craft and makes the process of what he’s at seem more analogue, or just human. The only other act we have seen who can stand alone behind a bank of panels and hold a room rapt like this is Jon Hopkins so Daithi seems to be in some good company as a performer too.
The full version of ‘Chameleon Life’ is saved till near the end, and it’s beautiful. If the passion behind tonight’s show to a thin bank holiday crowd is anything to judge, and if there’s any justice in the country, Daithi will be put up on stage as the night falls in Stradbally this Summer to kick off a night of dancing – smiling till your face hurts, last beers in your hands and trying not to spill them as he keeps knocking out future hits. That’s the sort of dream that crosses the mind as April turns to Summer at the drop of a fiddle loop tonight – and your realise your face is hurting.
Daithi photographed for State by Mark McGuinness.