Local heroes and self-styled folk miscreants, Lynched are back in their dirty auld town tonight to finish off a year which has seen their star continuing to ascend, with a sold out performance in Vicar Street.
And as we face in to the soggy fag-end of music’s annus most horribilis, its makes for a pleasant change to be partaking in a musical celebration rather than reflecting all mournful and maudlin like on the shuffling off this mortal coil of another soul from music’s pantheon of greats.
Ian Lynch proudly tells us, by way of introduction, that Vicar Street is a fitting setting for this, their largest hometown gig, as the Lynch brothers can trace their roots back to five generations of street traders and musicians in the surrounding Thomas Street area.
Kicking off proceedings with ‘Henry My Son’ and as the night develops, they prove that they’re more than the measure of the occasion and venue as we’re plied with a passing parade of old ditties and forgotten Dublin music hall songs that lionise equally long forgotten blaggards, bowsies and boozers of questionable character. And not forgetting the odd “fresh fish” thrown in for good measure.
Much has been made in other quarters of Lynched’s punk like attitude towards their craft (a case of Fugazi-iddly-eye?) and there’s no doubt that there’s a post-punk influence that has informed their style. Their playing is deliberate, understated and free of unnecessary ornamentation.
This allows them to sound ancient and modern at the same time. The dense bass droning of the pipes playing off Radie Peate’s keening vocal sounds as old as the hills that Dublin nestles beneath. Equally, MacDiarmada’s unhurried fiddling and the Atlantic storm-driven, swelling force of the band’s four part harmonies are sounds that are embedded deep within our Celtic psyche.
But the life, wit and charm that they breathe into the reclaimed songs places them firmly in the modern era.
There are mercurial moments in a select number of songs that never fail to cause the listener to pause, catch their breath and refocus. Such as, the stoner-baggie-funk middle eight breakdown in The Stone Roses’, ‘I Am The Resurrection’; the thrill of anticipation as the opening bars of ‘Smells Like Teenspirit’ surrender to Grohl’s crashing drums; Jagger’s “woo-woo”-ing in ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ as he and Richards summon up Lucifer with their diabolical boogie.
All instinctive and visceral moments that continue to fire the imagination and remind the listener that, if nothing else, we are alive, we are in the now. And this is why we never tire of listening to music and why it continues to be a vital ingredient and expression of our existence. It’s a case of “no music, no live” as our good friends over at Tower Records constantly remind us
There’s a section in Lynched’s tale of a broken, beaten but not quite defeated Dublin, ‘Cold Old Fire’, when the pipes step in and the lilt of the chanter raises the tune, that’s up there with the best of those aforementioned sublime moments.
Tonight, that lift is simply transcendental and heart stopping-ly, jaw dropping-ly gorgeous. All the elements of the music combine and the resonating force of the harmonies fills the room and draws us together in a time honoured communion. A deafening primal roar rises from the previously seated but now standing audience as the place erupts as the tune climaxes. The sound swelling in intensity as it reaches, like the finished song, to the firmament, striving to break the corporeal bounds, grasping at freedom. Music, nay life, doesn’t get much better than this.
Tonight has been a triumph in every sense of the word.