It’s barely three months since the sisters Haim last visited Dublin and, in a testament to their popularity, they’ve made the leap from the Academy to a sold-out Olympia Theatre in a flash. based on tonight’s performance there won’t be a stage that these already-assured performers can’t plunder. Their rise has been swift and steady, based on channelling Seventies AOR and Eighties pop into a modern pastiche – it’s not exactly original but damned if it ain’t good fun.
The LA troupe are backed up tonight by another sibling group in Broods. Caleb and Georgia Nott ply the synthpop, power ballad trade, a largely forgettable mishmash of trance-y backdrops with a strong female vocal. Georgia stirs some momentum with her unselfconscious dancing, and the crowd seem game, but when one song calls to mind Journey it kind of sums it all up.
A backdrop with three garden chairs echoing the Days Are Gone album cover hangs from the rear of the stage, with Alana, Danielle and Este missing from the scene. A drummer walks on, barely discernible behind the smoke onstage, before a bass pulses in unison with the strobe lights and ‘Falling’ sees the band pull a victory straight out of the hat.
Focus constantly shifts from one section of the stage to another, as the band trade off in vocals and percussive workouts. One minute it’s Este out in front of the stacks, gurning in that now-trademark but still fascinating manner, the next it’s Danielle in jaw-clenched Springsteen mode. They’ve assimilated a multitude of influences, from the aforementioned to modern R&B, and all come across onstage. Their’s is posturing and showmanship of an old school variety, fresh for the very reason that you just don’t see it anymore. Throw that in to the mix with an abundance of attitude, F-bombs, and Este wanting to “hear our ass cheeks clapping” to ‘My Song 5’ and you’re on to a winner.
The bassist is the most vocal of the three when it comes to the stage patter. “Pretend The Olympia is like the Haim family living room” she instructs, and for one terrifying moment it seems like a mass cross-legged sit-in – as the Haim clan apparently do at home – is on the cards. The ensuing full-on rocker version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ puts paid to that notion.
It’s nigh impossible not get swept up in the enthusiasm of the young crowd and the fun-filled stage antics, particularly when Este holds up an Irish flag with ‘Is brea linn Haim’ emblazoned on it; it’s comedically back to front, but her heart is in the right place. Momentum slows when Danielle takes up drum stool duties for Beyonce’s ‘XO’, a vital link taken out of the tripartite chain stage front, but ‘Let Me Go’ is a guitar and drum duelling finale, with all hands on percussion for a tribal finish as beams and strobes flare. Este and Alana play matador and bull with the flag, the ‘Olé Olé’ chant erupts, and a fantastic gig draws to a close. On record it all wears a bit thin, but these girls certainly know how to put on a living, breathing, thrilling rock show.
Photo: Olga Kuzmenko