They’re back! Again! The six piece Detroit-based group Electric Six have become regulars in Dublin’s Academy. Having released nine full-length studio albums at an almost annual rate, and touring regularly, it’s impressive that these guys still have the gusto and passion they exhibit every time they visit. From the moment vocalist and entertainer Dick Valentine steps on stage, he grins like a Cheshire cat and soaks up the adoration from the crazies in the audience (a term they use to affectionately refer to their fans).
Smartly dressed in suits and ties, Electric Six need no fancy props or backdrops to impress. In fact, their moniker is nowhere to be seen in the Academy tonight, other than at the Merchandise stand and on the t-shirts of a handful of fans. The audience seem to be predominantly in their twenties and thirties, probably aware of E6 since their 2003 debut album Fire; made famous by the tracks ‘Gay Bar’ and ‘Danger! High Voltage’. None of their subsequent eight albums achieved anything like the success of their debut, but their staple and catchy offerings since then have proved adequate in achieving regular sold-out gigs ten years later.
By the third song, the already fully-committed audience are dancing, jumping and singing along to ‘Down at McDonnellzzz’ from the 2007 album I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being the Master. The double-whammy of ‘Improper Dancing’ and ‘Danger!’ spurs the crazies on even more and the standing area turns into an undulating sea of jumping bodies. Disappointingly, there are no glowing crotches to be seen, but the broad selection of tracks from their significant back catalogue seems to pleasing everyone.
Enjoying a pint of the black stuff, Valentine drops a few not-so-subtle hints encouraging the audience to buy their latest offering Mustang from the merchandise stand. “We need a way to get to England. That piece-of-shit empire. It was the Irish that made America great” he announces to cheers of approval. He goes on to explain that they recently used a “Kickstarter” campaign to fund the recording of a new live DVD. Apparently, one of the perks up for grabs was the chance to play (and keep!) the Cowbell during a live performance of ‘Gay Bar’. Valentine invites successful backer Eva, who pledged at least $500, to join the band onstage.
Despite Eva’s excited and proficient performance, her efforts go largely unheard without the provision of a microphone in her proximity to make her percussion audible. Regardless, she enjoys her three minutes of stardom as the crowd go wild for the song that probably first attracted most attention to Electric Six in 2003. There are hugs all round, and it’s over as quickly as it began. Or is it? Valentine tells the ironic news that of the three fans who bid to perform onstage, one was from Arkansas, and not one, but two, were from Dublin. And so he invites John onstage and play the song over, prompting crowd surfing from the hyperactive audience as they are treated to a repeat performance of the fan favourite. The boisterous behaviour triggers some unnecessarily aggressive altercations between the surfers and the venue security staff, but the tension is short-lived and quickly forgotten.
After performing their “final” song, Valentine proclaims “Go forth and tell others what you have seen here tonight”, and retires backstage. A thunderous cry for “one more tune” is answered with an encore of ‘Dance Commander’, and the show ends proper to enormous applause. Same place, same time next year then?
Photo: Olga Kuzmenko