The Academy was worryingly empty when at little before 8pm support act Le Galaxie arrived onstage. The band took the absence of an audience in their stride however, and treated the few present to new tracks from their upcoming EP. Synth-tastic noise their weapon of choice, this Dublin based band would be worth a listen in a more appreciative setting. Second support act were fellow Choice Music Prize nominees Halfset, who even though their dreamy, instrumental compositions were performed to a more extensive crowd, didn’t garner all that much more attention. Carefully crafted tracks such as the enchanting single ‘Work’, although original and undoubtedly captivating, are simply better suited for soundtrack rather than stand alone appreciation.
Soon enough, it was time for the real deal. Messiah J and the Expert have received accolades galore for their ingenious records, but just as much can be said for their live performances. Wordsmith Messiah J surprised what was by nine o’clock room full of fans by appearing above the stage for the opening lines of the genuinely chilling -Tomorrow Is Too Late’, before he, his suitably talented partner in crime, The Expert, and Co. made their way forward. Plenty more tracks from the incredibly strong From the Word Go were in store, as lead single -Megaphone Man’ and the none-too-quiet -Keep the Noise Down’ followed each other in quick succession.
It is mostly Messiah J’s commanding onstage presence, energy and surprising agility which ensures that no one’s attention is allowed to wander, but while The Expert might not have as much freedom for leaping to the barriers and back, his equal partner in this musical mania is not to be forgotten – you couldn’t have an MJ without an EX.
Some older material such as -All the Other Girls’ was just as welcome, as well as -Six Feet with a Grin’, a more laid-back and rarely-heard track from the band’s debut. -Turn the Magic On’ might have been missing a live female vocalist, but compensated for its lack with a scattering of balloons and confetti. -Geography’ was an electric number from start to finish, while the usually sombre but beautiful -No Bagsies No Keepsies’ was given a much altered and heavier makeover. The ‘world premiere’ of -Looking for a Long Term Thing’ went down first time as well as any MJEX favourite, and powerful performances of -Year of the Genie’ and -Panic Station’ brought an excited crowd to mourn the end of the set. It wasn’t long before an encore of the eternally apt -Superfamous Supertune’ and the ferocious gem -Jean is Planning an Escape’ brought the evening to a close, and an obviously ecstatic act left an audience with their faith in Irish hip-hop restored once more. Masters of genre-mixing, lyrical genius and melody to boot; Messiah J and the Expert are a prime example of how it should be.
– Saturday 27th March 2009 –
Photo: Chickenball Squish