There’s no support act on offer in Whelan’s tonight – instead, a lone DJ spinning classic rock & roll on vinyl, the influences of The Minutes at full blast and setting the tone for what lies ahead. Shane Kinsella appears onstage as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ fades to mute, a brief solo intro giving but a taste of why he’s one of the most mesmerising musicians on the Irish music scene to watch perform his craft. Bassist Tom Cosgrave and fearless leader Mark Austin soon join him – a bit more than fashionably late, it must be said – but any grumbles about the fact amongst the capacity crowd in Whelan’s are quickly blown away by a thundering intro of ‘Black & Blue’. The Minutes have landed – and it’s time to rock.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the band only released their debut album in May. Since its release, they have hit the road extensively – touring Marcata nationwide, playing a number of high-profile support slots, and holding their own on the summer festival circuit in spite of the usual stupidly early time-slots afforded to the most promising of Irish acts. Tonight though, they’re firmly planted in a spotlight all of their own in front of a sold-out audience, and they more than take advantage of their time to shine. ‘Gold’ and ‘Heartbreaker’ are early highlights, the overzealous head-banging of fans in the front row putting them within danger-distance of Cosgrave and Austin’s flailing fret-boards. A new song, ‘Supernatural’, is debuted to a somewhat more subdued reception – always to be expected with fresh material in a live setting – but when it’s followed up by a ferocious rendition of ‘Monster’, who can complain?
The Minutes certainly make a lot of noise for a trio. In an era of Irish music which is becoming increasingly more electronic-orientated, it’s refreshing to see the sheer power of a back-to-basics setup of guitar, bass and drums – there’s not a synthesizer in sight tonight. The musicianship is top-notch – the ferocity of Kinsella’s drumming a force all in itself, Cosgrave drives the rhythm with those raucous bass riffs, and at the centre of it all the huge presence of front-man Austin. His banter with the audience throughout his obnoxiously charming – he can say what he wants and get away with it, because he’s more than got the goods to back it up, commanding over lead guitar with a natural swagger and on occasion veering into preacher-esque territory with his vocals. Mid-set Austin departs the stage to perform a cover of ‘Showbiz Blues’ from the back of the venue – a fantastic twist on the evening’s proceedings. Both ‘Black Keys’ and ‘Fleetwood’ inspire all-out sing-alongs, and ‘Guilt Quilt’ is an absolute treat. After dutifully soaking Kinsella (and the audience) in champagne to mark the occasion of the drummer’s birthday, an extended rendition of ‘I.M.O.T.D’ closes out the set on a frenzied high. In a rare momentary display of humility the band thank the capacity crowd as they depart the stage – and if performances like tonight’s are to become the norm, The Minutes may well get used to saluting sold-out audiences.
Photos by Kieran Frost.