It’s not surprising that The Naked and Famous have managed to sell out The Olympia tonight. Having filled The Button Factory in March (before they had even released an album), an unfortunate scheduling clash at this year’s Oxegen festival saw them go up against the might of The Script and The Strokes. The set was missed out on by many, but held in very high regard by those who were lucky enough to catch it – and hype is something which generally tends to work very well for this band.
The Naked and Famous are a bit like MGMT 2.0. Their fans are serious, word-for-word sing-along kinda fans who have listened to debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You on loop and most likely cite is as the soundtrack to their summer. The album may have divided critics – elating some, disappointing others, and garnering the ‘just another indie band’ tag from those falling in between – but there’s no denying the energy and vibrancy that the band exude in a live setting, and tonight’s show proves it.
As with any band of this nature, it’s the popular singles that prove the standout moments – ‘Punching in a Dream’ is unleashed early on to a rapturous reception, those introductory synth beats garnering a huge cheer before Alisa Xayalith launches into a compelling vocal performance with the full-house backing her up. The song that kicked things off for them back in 2009, ‘All Of This’, continues to impress; and the gradual build of Thom Powers impassioned delivery of unlikely-sounding vitriol towards a former lover ‘Girls Like You’ too is thrilling. The Naked and Famous also know how to bring down the pace and dish out some delectable minimal electronica-fused pop – most notably with an almost hypnotic rendition of ‘The Sun’. ‘No Way’ too is a highlight – the juxtaposition of the impossibly sweet melodic verses leading into euphoric piano-driven instrumental segments showcasing perfectly the versatility that the band have to offer.
The set hits a snag when they return onstage for the encore and perform a hugely underwhelming cover of ‘Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!’ by fellow Kiwis The Mint Chicks – but thankfully the best has been saved for last, as ‘Young Blood’ sends The Olympia into a frenzy to close out the set. “It’s always such a pleasure playing in Dublin. What a rowdy bunch you lot are!” the band tweeted immediately after the show – and not for nothing.
Furious guitars, poppy synths and thumping drum beats blend seamlessly throughout, and the dual lead vocals of Powers and Xayalith are near-flawless. Anthemic electro-pop played amidst a barrage of smoke and strobe lights, with a capacity crowd chanting along adoringly – a gig to remember, justifying the hype and igniting hopes for what might come in the future.
Photo: Sean Conroy. See more pictures here.