Fight Like Apes now annual Christmas show has this year stretched into a second helping yet it is perhaps not obvious how this one will work out. The band are performing a hometown gig in a specially-commissioned wrestling ring. And that’s not all. Never one to do things by half, the four-piece have taken a bizarre and original concept and ran with it. Tonight is awash with spandex, cardboard signs, fake fights and all the other eccentricities associated with the American show/sport. Such is the attention to detail, even the bouncers are dressed like their WWF counterparts – ready and willing to watch mayhem unfold, clad in white shirts and black dickie-bows. And mayhem is what ensues.
Following a suitably hammed-up and amusing introduction involving a -referee’, wrestlers and an event announcer, MayKay, Pockets, Tom and Adrian emerge clutching bottles of Buckfast as they take the stage to a wave of adoration. A hometown show, tonight also marks something of a return to duties and while there’s an undoubted sense of occasion to proceedings, there’s also a sense of much to be proven. Forget the event theatrics, FLApes have got to show they’ve the musical stamina to push beyond their -fun’ image.
This means new songs, and fresh material such as the thundering -Kathmandu’ sits comfortably amongst hits such as -Do You Karate?’ and -Lend Me Your Face’, which are confidently disposed of early on in the set. As entertaining as ever to watch, MayKay and Pockets gee-up a sporadically raucous crowd amid shrieks of -come the fuck on’ as they scale the ropes of the wrestling ring. Well-honed as a live outfit, they’re also just messy enough to endear. The lack of polish and disregard for their instruments is refreshing, and the feverish responses to -Jake Summers’, late in the set, and -I’m Beginning To Think You Prefer Beverly Hills 90210 To Me’, early on, demonstrate the band’s potential to take these tunes way beyond the relatively small confines of The Academy. There’s no doubt that the four-piece are well equipped to take a strong second record global.
Post encore and another fun wrestling stage act, comes -Snore Bore Whore’, MayKay continuing to impress as an increasingly interesting front woman as she showcases an ability to ooze punked-up sensuality amid her trademark shriek. Stomping McLusky cover -Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues’ is followed by an under-whelming -Knucklehead’, before normal service is returned with closer -Battlestations’ leaving all with little doubt that they’ve pulled off a potentially tricky event. Fun, high-spirited, entertaining and, above all, a mini musical joy to behold, FLApes have once again raised the bar for Irish acts. There’s no need to look abroad for an original approach to deliver a fresh and entertaining live show. Where they go from here is going to be interesting to witness. Roll on 2010.
Photos: Kieran Frost