‘Thanks for showing some old men some love’, Richie Egan tells the heaving throng in Whelan’s as The Redneck Manifesto‘s return gig in the capital draws to a close. It’s been over a year since we last had the pleasure of seeing this band onstage and in their prolonged absence young upstarts like Adebisi Shank and ASIWYFA have rapidly burst through the stratosphere of the Irish music scene as contenders to the best instrumental band crown. Regardless of the absence, tonight’s sold-out Dublin show showed exactly why TRM are considered one of this country’s top live talents and why these self-confessed ‘old men’ look unlikely to release their grip on the prize just yet.
Despite the moniker, Patrick Kelleher & His Cold Dead Hands warmed things up with material from their current release You Look Cold. With samples, effects, a suitably bored looking female keyboardist and Ian Curtis-style moves from one band member, despite a few false starts at the beginning of the set Kelleher and Co sound much more polished than their haphazard image may suggest. However, as the frontman himself recognises, the audience were present for one band and one band alone.
Although the five-piece have relentlessly kept busy individually, most notably with Egan’s Jape winning last year’s Choice Music Prize, the absence of The Redneck Manifesto from gigging has not gone unnoticed. But as they take to the stage sounding as vital and fresh as ever, the extended absence is quickly forgotten. With a focus on showcasing new material, the setlist still managed to pull some strong live staples like ‘We Still Got It’ out of the bag and to inspire a mass singalong. To the untrained ear the music could merge into one mass of instrumental rock but to the more seasoned TRM fan the progression of the band’s sound is more plainly mapped out by tonight’s choice of tunes. Despite stating elsewhere that the eagerly awaited successor to I Am Brazil will showcase a new direction, the new tracks are not exactly a complete departure but display a more mature, funkier and together sound (such as on the Michael Jackson inspired -Little Nose’). Meanwhile, cracking versions of -Rubber Up’ and -Weird’ kept the crowd on their toes. With the quintet clearly giving it their all onstage to a crowd that seemed unable to get enough, the latest tracks are played faster, more furiously and with new levels of musicianship, showing that the time away was wisely spent indeed.
As the encore of -I Am Brazil’ and -Break Your Fingers’ closed the show in time to catch the Bats launch over in Andrews Lane, there is nothing left to say about the Redneck Manifesto except perhaps an overdue welcome back.
Photo: Loreana Rushe