Despite all its pretence of rebellion and non-conformity the beast that we all know and love as rock ‘n’ roll can, betimes, be as conservative and conformist as your local god fearing and Vatican facing church. It’s an entity not too dissimilar from the holy mother church. It may have an unholy polytheist structure with many gods, demi-gods and demons in its firmament. But, like the Holy Roman Empire, it too has more than its fair share of martyrs. Those who’ve sacrificed themselves for the greater good, that lived fast and died young, offering their ever young copses as sustenance and nourishment for the evolving entity in its quest for immortality and eternal youth.
It has its sacred texts; The White Album, Exile on Main St, ‘Tutti Fruiti’, Nevermind etc. It has its own mystical dogma that determines what’s cool and what not and so on. And like our beloved church it too has its places of worship in the various, music halls, venues and stadia that are dotted across the land. And it’s in one of these glorious sweatboxes, The Academy, that we witness the continuing rite of adulation at the RnR alter.
The Stypes are in town to play two shows as part of their seemingly never ending tour. Friday is for the over 18s brigade but Saturday, that holiest of nights in the rock ‘n’ roller’s week, had been reserved for an all-ages show. And it’s here that we witness the baptism of the next generation of the faithful.
Officiating over the night’s ceremony is Ireland’s longest serving high priest of cool, BP Fallon. By way of introduction Beep incants a lyrical piece, “I believe in…”, which joins the dots from Robert Johnson’s crossroads to the four likely lads from Cavan town – via Zeppelin, Presley, Little Richard, the Beatles, Stones et all. And, as he squares the circle and proclaims his belief in Cavan and in Ross, Josh, Pete and Evan, The Stypes take to the stage to fervourous exaltation.
For watchers of all things pop-media related it may seem like these lads have been 14 forever but it’s only been three and half years since they made their televisual debut on the Late Late Toy Show back in 2010. In the intervening years puberty has hit, shaving has begun, balls have dropped and attitudes and swagger have grown. No longer the doe eyed cutesy puppy dogs thrust centre stage like a mutt at Crufts these whelps are growing into fully fledged blues bloodhounds and they claim the stage with their version of territorial pissing. They prowl and pose their way across the boards goading and cajoling the youthful congregation into this Saturday night’s worship.
The pace is blistering as they rip through their set. Crowd favourites like ‘What A Shame’, ‘Lucky 7’ and ‘Still Going To Drive You Home’ are literally thrown at the audience in defiance. Whilst the energy is initially refreshing the songs lose their subtly and begin to blur in a melee of RnB, garage and proto-punk intensity.
Like a hurried shift at the debs the songs are over just as they’ve begun and we’ve moved onto the next one before we’ve had the time to savour what we had. Neither party, the audience nor the bad, are fully sated and both left begging for more. It’s not until ‘Angel Eyes’ that the tempo is brought down a few notches and both the audience and band get to catch a well-earned breather.
But the audience are oblivious to any shortcomings from the stage. They’re enraptured in the theatricality of it all. Every call is zealously responded to, every new song rapturously received, every strut and peacock preen devoutly acknowledged. Tonight was never going to be about subtly or light and shade. It is about passing the torch onto the next generation of those willing to throw themselves prostrate at the altar of Elvis. And in this regard it’s mission accomplished.
#TheFutureIsBlue is a hashtag trending in Cavan at the moment. It’s inspired by the resurgence of the long suffering fortunes of their Breffni Blues football team . Tonight the hashtag #TheFutureIsRhythmAndBlues seems more apt. And I’ll give an Amen to that brother, now can I can I get a witness?
Photo: Mark McGuinness