Despite the torrential rain outside, the living room-like surroundings of the Old Queen’s Head in Islington makes for a cosy night in. The London Irish Centre, along with Werewolf Promotions, has lined up an evening to satisfy those with nostalgia for the eccentric stylings of Ireland’s fine musicians. Slightly unhinged indie and electro might not be what we were traditionally known for, but it’s certainly a comforting reminder of home when jerky quintet Grand Pocket Orchestra take to the stage. Instrument swapping and melodic indie-quirk make this mumbling, organised mash of a performance absolutely endearing and nothing short of excellent. Like a bunch of country folk who took the wrong turn at the farmers’ dinner dance and ended up in front of a range of retro keyboards and abandoned instruments, GPO play like everything is an experimental wonder, gleefully charmed by their own exploration.
Less muddled but no less batty, Jape easily keep the pace. It’s been three years since Ritual was released so an array of new material sits well alongside a smattering of better known tracks. ’80s-sprinkled electronica leads the way with pounding disco intros and ‘Please Don’t Turn The Record Off’ evoking some Flashdance feelings during the first 30 seconds (even ‘Graveyard’ gets an Erasure-esque intro). The aforementioned new offering is a shimmering, reverberating pop caprice. Richie Egan judders over his keys as if the wiring has gone awry. Every song, from ‘Strike Me Down’ to recent creation ‘One of Those Days That Just Feels So Long’, springs with an energy that seems excessive even by Jape’s standards. A few niggles mark the set: the rhythms of ‘I Was A Man’ are horrifically drowned by a piercing backing track set louder than any other things on the stage, which oscillates between having the irritating intensity of a fire alarm and adding an extra element to the song, while parts of ‘Hands of Fire’ appear to escape Egan’s range but by the time the band close with ‘Floating’ (what else?), all mistakes are forgotten.
Photos: Claire Weir