Seemingly graduating through small to mid-sized venues via festival circuits Glass Animals appear at ease on-stage in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre tonight. The Oxford 4-piece whose second album has only just arrived in August of this year have a confident and obviously talent-rich collective presence so their much anticipated return to Ireland heralds their second wave and the stakes are getting higher.
Tonight there is physical histrionics from front man Dave Bayley and the odd little shimmy and pop from his supporting cast of school-friends but don’t be fooled into overlooking who or what the star of the show is; the quasi-intangible potential. There is so much to this band that even the most die-hard fan has to admit that there is better to come. The band’s intrinsic ability to write swooning, woozy, effervescent pop music foreshadows far more serious work ahead. That is not to say that the current output is poor, it isn’t. But there is no apparent emotional depth to it whatsoever. These songs are great but don’t seem to mean a whole lot. They are played well and when you listen a bit closer you can hear a lot of moving parts but you can’t imagine ever reaching for one to score a momentous life event; very few occasions call for a song about peanut butter. ‘Life Itself’, ‘Youth’ and ‘Hazey’ are the aural equivalent of pulling taffy, hypnotic in their ostensibly endless hallucinogenic refrains and waves. Bayley, sans guitar, is standing on the edge of the stage in front of an adoring forest of outreached hands, he looks messianic in this adulation but, if the truth be told, the rest of the band look bored as fuck while he bathes in youthful adulation.
‘Gooey’ obviously, causes uproar amongst the crowd but once the initial rush passes away there are a lot of people reaching for their cameras – the undeniable mark of immersive emotional engagement. “Fuck being here now, let’s look at shakey footage of it later with shite sound”. The playing from the band is great, why not enjoy it now? Joe Seaward’s restrained drumming is redolent of Ringo’s – and nobody can take offense to that; timing is everything and this drumming holds pace like a metronome. There is very little lacking from any of the band’s playing tonight, especially Bayley’s guitar playing. When he lets rip he adds so much to the music you really have to wonder why he’s not all over this stuff. That said, not every song in Glass Animals’ repertoire calls for a riff, fewer still for a solo. Tonight we got a great set and some quality musicianship; credit where it’s due. But their writing, playing and talent promises so much more and with Oxford’s tradition of providing quality bands we’ll bet that we’ll get it eventually.