Having sold out the Workmans Club in a heartbeat, Real Estate have relocated to the other side of town to the slightly larger confines of Whelans. It’s an agreeable choice and surely a sign of things to come, although they’re hardly pulling out the performance stops. A band who are never going to be renowned for their ‘show’ or between song banter, they opt to keep the chat to a minimum save for one comment about Dublin seeming like a nice place and numerous meek thank yous after each song. Real Estate prefer to let their heads do the nodding and the music do the talking.
Opening with ‘April’s Song’, an instrumental off their most recent album Atlas, and following up with ‘Crime’ and ‘Past Lives’ from that same record, what is apparent is how easily the band recreate the dreamy floaty jangle pop that they are known for. It sounds great. It won’t blow the speakers anytime soon, but music is not always about that. Tonight it is about musicianship and pure enjoyment.
The setlist effortlessly switches between songs from the last two albums with ‘Easy’, ‘Municipality’ and ‘Green Aisles’ all getting an airing. Sensing a natural lull in the gig they pull it back with ‘It’s Real’, prompting a full-on chant along chorus from the tightly packed crowd. This seems to relax the band a little bit and they play the next few songs with a more confident and relaxed air, with the loose jangle bounce of ‘Beach Comber’ testament to this.
The studied veil of seriousness, which has been on the slide for a while now, falls completely when from out of nowhere the band start jamming Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ before they launch into ‘Wonder Years’. This little bit of light relief seems to buoy the band and the crowd, half-smiles break out across the stage and furtive glances are replaced by grins.
Then they are gone and it doesn’t look like they are coming back for the inevitable encore. Taking longer than most bands would, they eventually amble back on stage and launch into the psychedelic slacker swirl of ‘Suburban Beverage’ followed by a snippet of ‘Tequila’ (a reference to a pre-encore tipple perhaps). Then finally, they get around to ‘Talking Backwards’, their huge breakthrough single from Atlas. It’s glorious and sounds every bit as good if not better than it does on record but it is over way too soon. The crowd wants and demands one more song. While the band furiously try to decide what they are going to play, bassist Alex Bleeker takes the opportunity to thank everyone and tell them they won’t leave it so long before they come back. The crowd helpfully inform him that they are in fact playing the Academy in October and polite laughter ripples around the room. Getting bigger they may be, but Real Estate aren’t rock stars just yet.
Photo: Simon Roche