Fifteen years after their last outing in the capital, Dublin pop-rock outfit Power of Dreams are back to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album. Immigrants, Emigrants and Me was the album released when the then trio were plucked from rainy Ireland to (a probably equally rainy) London, where the streets were paved with gold – or at least where record companies could afford to throw silly money at young, promising acts. Three albums and a couple of jaunts around the world later, the band disbanded amicably, their long-term hiatus finally coming to an end this year.
But on this, the second of their Irish dates (the first being in Dundalk’s Spirit Store), it’s nigh on impossible to tell that they have ever been away at all. Save for their slow tuning between songs, they are completely on form, having used their dates in England to warm up for this seminal homecoming moment. Whelan’s probably hasn’t seen a crowd this mature on a Friday night for a long time but the audience are going crazy like it’s still 1990. The atmosphere is mostly warm except for a few who unintentionally get caught up in the swirling mess of the pit. Time appears to have dulled the memory of unspoken pit etiquette but the music is harder and more driving than it has been previously on the tour. This gig has been a long time coming and godamnit PoD are going to make sure those who have kept the faith get everything they deserve.
Listening to the songs, it’s hard to believe these are the creations of a 17 year old Craig Walker. The songwriting shows an unexpected maturity – lyrically strong, packed full of jangly guitars, solid riffs and catchy choruses, the sold out crowd is swinging, dancing and pogo-ing to tracks like ‘Much Too Much’ and ‘Stay’. While most material comes from the debut, there is a smattering of the heavier offerings from the later albums including the excellent ‘Cathy’s World’ and ‘Cancer’, a cover of The Smiths’ ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ and the heavy, Therapy?-esque ‘Metalscape’ from 2 Hell With Common Sense, which despite preceding nu-metal by about three or four years, has hints of the genre. Most of their tracks have aged well, except perhaps their only Irish number one single, ‘Never Been to Texas’, reminiscent of Levellers or The Wonder Stuff and definitely definitive of an era.
Nostalgia fills the air and it’s an emotional affair even for those of us who may not have been singing along first time round. Try not to feel part of something special surrounded by people screaming every single word of ‘Where is the Love?’ as if every note awakes another memory from another time. One happy punter borrows a mic to shout out to his wife with whom he shared a first date at a Power of Dreams gig many moons ago. Finishing with two blistering encores and a particularly raucous version of ‘100 Ways to Kill A Love’, it’s difficult to understand why this band never achieved the ascension into rock royalty that they so deserved. But they are certainly a band we can be proud to call our own.
Plans are in the pipeline for further gigs later this year and if you haven’t yet had the chance to experience Power of Dreams’ infectious, inspiring pop rock live, make sure you are first in line come future shows – and let the rock alumni show you how it’s really done.
Photo: Aurimas Sliogeris & Sabine Coppier, ABDmedia.com