As one of the more produced rock bands in the shops these days, it was hard to imagine what Danish rockers Mew would deliver in the live setting when the technicians had gone and they were left with just instruments and effects. Tonight dispelled any such fears, but the full-ish Academy crowd were just delighting in finally being able to witness these peculiar and peerless prog-rockers.
It’s unlikely that the Academy, or any Irish venue for that matter, has hosted anything like Mew before. The set was an education in technical virtuosity and bombastic song arrangements that somehow make perfect sense to pop lovers. Songs were often played in pairs as they appear on their LP tracklistings, bleeding into one another, and completing a particular movement. You can’t imagine -Circuitry Of The Wolf’, the opening track from 2005’s ‘¦And The Glass-Handed Kites, without follower -Chinaberry Tree’. The dizzying -Am I Wry’, from breakthrough LP Frengers seems incomplete without the steady epilogue of -156′. What was amazing is that this is not a live limitation, but a rare opportunity to show how special these pieces really are in the musical landscape.
But something didn’t sit quite right tonight. It wasn’t tripped out singer Jonas Bjerre’s regrettable likeness to Johnny Borrell. The visuals were perfectly themed with the dark fairytales being played, and star drummer Silas Utke Graae and guitar whiz Bo Madsen were solid cornerstones to Bjerre’s airy-fairy stage manner. The problem was The Academy – alright for a sweaty night of rock -n’ roll, but somehow unsuitable for such ambition and vision. Mew share a genetic link with acts like Sigur Ros or The Flaming Lips, and while fans may have been thrilled to be up close, the spectacle and grandeur demanded a more expansive setting.
Photos by Kieran Frost.