Middle Abbey Street isn’t always the natural home for the Dublin music scene (that location lies across town somewhere along Wexford Street), but tonight most gig goers seemed to have decamped to the northside. They’re joined by a number of touts who can sniff some potential business as the two Irish acts have sold out their respective venues. Next door MMOTHS is launching his new EP at the Twisted Pepper yet while Jack Colleran has found acclaim heaped upon him almost immediately, for Ham Sandwich their move to the Academy has taken a good deal longer.
Some nine years since a diverse group of individuals came together in Kells, they have finally broken through the glass ceiling that seemed to surround them. If they had treated tonight as an opportunity to show their doubters the middle finger – after a couple of years that have seen them sniped at, bitched about and passed over – it would have been disappointing but perhaps understandable. As it is, this is a celebration mixed with vindication and a sense of purpose that has eluded them thus far, even after the release of the excellent White Fox album.
They have taken the challenge of their largest headliner to date seriously too. Crowd pleasing touches such as confetti cannons and giant bouncing balls we’ve come to expect but the maturity of their performance is a more pleasant surprise. The addition of violin and piano fill the sound nicely, yet the most perfect touch is that of trumpet player Brian Quinn and the expanded seven piece line-up take the already joyous songs to new heights. This is a considered, measured performance and one that is a world away from their chaotic former selves. Only Podge McNamee acts as a connection with their past selves, playing the court jester to Niamh Farrell’s stylish cool but overdoes it slightly. Blame it on nerves or exuberance but not every song needs a rambling introduction, although he does deliver some deft one liners.
Yet this is not the night to quibble, there’s been enough of that over the years. Instead, let us just revel in the joy of both band and audience. The set is perfectly pitched, knowing the exact point when to explode and when to turn up the emotion. They finish off with a stunning cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ and then match it with their own ‘The Naturist’, the moment when they reconnected with their inspiration and set off on a whole new adventure. As they take their final bows amongst the sea of confetti, it’s hard not to be moved. The meek may have not inherited the earth but they’re taking it on their own merit and they deserve everything that’s coming their way.
Photo: Colm Kelly