Thursday night in Whelan’s and the buzz is palpable, as Bleeding Heart Pigeons and Gypsies on the Autobahn provide the prelude to the much-anticipated headline slot from Irish buzz-band of the moment. Earmarked way-back-when by State, the quintet have since been lavished with ones-to-watch plaudits far and wide – from unending acclaim here at home, to praise from BBC Radio One taste makers Zane Lowe and Fearne Cotton, to The New York Times declaring them a must-see for last month’s CMJ Music Marathon showcase festival. Their debut album has been recorded with producer Markus Dravs (he of Arcade Fire, Coldplay, and LGC label-mates Mumford & Sons fame), and tonight affords the opportunity to not only hear new tracks, but also airings of polished-up versions of the songs that have been stripped from iTunes and Soundcloud since the band’s major label signing. The stage is set, the venue is packed within an inch of its capacity, hopes are unavoidably set to ‘high’ – it’s go-time for Little Green Cars.
It takes a lot of courage for any act to step out in front of such a giddy packed-house armed with nothing but vocal chords for an opening number – but Little Green Cars aren’t just ‘any’ act. A powerful rendition of the a capella ‘Red’, sung in five-part harmony under the curtain of near darkness, silences the baying mob in an instant. With a lasting first impression safely under their belts, the band breaks into full instrumentation and in doing so hold their audience captive for the next hour. Standout moments include the rumbling percussion building towards the mighty all-in chorus of ‘Them’, the harmonic tempo-hopping and fleeting musical outages throughout ‘Harper Lee’, and Faye O’Rourke’s vocal coups for both ‘Please’ and the exquisite piano-laden powerhouse ‘My Love Took Me Down To The River (To Silence Me)’.
The band possess talented leads in the form of both O’Rourke and frontman Stevie Appleby, but it’s the overall package which makes them a vocal force to be reckoned with – all members contribute greatly, managing to harmonise perfectly throughout without for a second neglecting their instrumental duties. An emphatically brilliant performance of ‘The John Wayne’ reincarnated closes out the main set, before the band return for an encore with the single’s B-side ‘Witching Hour’ – really, it would’ve worked better the opposite way around, but Little Green Cars can be allowed that oversight on the grounds of the non-stop and near-flawless entertainment provided.
We’ve observed closely and eagerly as raw talent has evolved into stellar songwriting and tightly honed musicianship and Little Green Cars proved tonight that they are more than capable of fulfilling their bountiful promise. The world awaits.