by / February 15th, 2011 /

Ham Sandwich – Whelan’s, Dublin

The current Ham Sandwich tour ties in with the release of ‘Ants’, the latest single from the band’s second album White Fox. The album has been a major step forward for Ham Sandwich, which says a lot when the high standard of the debut which preceded it is taken into consideration. The band have retained all of their original charm and likeability – but have simply built on these strong foundations, both lyrically and musically.

Tonight, Ham Sandwich have sold out Whelan’s for the first time in their touring career – a feat which they seem genuinely humbled by as they thank the crowd, and make a brief but poignant tribute to their late manager Derek Nally. The humility is admirable – but what Ham Sandwich should realise is that the capacity crowd in attendance tonight are here on the merit of the band’s own hard work. The strong trio of singles released from White Fox to date – ‘The Naturist’, ‘Oh-Oh’, and of course ‘Ants’ – have both attracted a whole new audience, and delighted those who have been with them since the earlier days. In truth, any given song on White Fox could be a potential single – a feat which makes the band’s omission from the Choice Music Prize shortlist continually hard to comprehend.

One thing that is clear from the very beginning of tonight’s performance – Ham Sandwich have really upped their game in the live setting. Although some technical difficulties at times threatened to hinder the show, the band soldier on and delivered a performance which was nothing short of brilliant. The opening half hour is all about White Fox, before ‘St. Christopher’ presents itself as a vintage highlight. An impressive performance of ‘Models’ lifts the pace of the set, with the band’s trademark confetti canon kicking in just as the song reaches its climax. ‘Keepsake’ and ‘Words’ allow the crowd to find their voice – and also allow Podge to venture off stage and mingle with the audience.

Front woman Niamh Farrell’s voice has evolved to become a force to be reckoned with – sweet n’ soulful during a beautiful rendition of ‘Floors’, roof-raising on the classic ‘Click… Click… BOOM’, and striking a fine balance between both with the formidable ‘Ants’. The ever-distinctive vocal interplay between Niamh and Podge is so enjoyable to watch live on stage – the duelling voices on encore duo of songs ‘The Naturist’ and ‘Never Talk’, matched by emphatic musical performance from the entire band, make for a spectacular closing to tonight’s show.

Photos: Kieran Frost.
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