This time last year, 2010 Choice Music Prize winners Two Door Cinema Club were a little-known but critically acclaimed three piece whose biggest Dublin appearance was a slot supporting The Maccabees at the 1000-odd capacity Academy. Tonight, twelve months later, sees the Northerners convert their status into massive ticket sales with the first of consecutive Olympia Theatre dates: their largest headline venue in the Republic so far, and they’ve sold it out twice. A few weeks ago they even gave away €10,000 to charity: things have moved fast since nervously signing their Kitsune record contract in Kevin’s parent’s kitchen.
With bigger venues, though, come bigger requirements, and there’s little sign just yet of Two Door delivering consistently. The band emerge on stage to what’s become their signature pre-show intro, Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’ followed by early century club classic ‘Zombie Nation’, and leap characteristically straight into the depths of debut Tourist History. Tonight’s highlights come from the expected corners: ‘Undercover Martyn’ delivers that infectious, twiddly intro and ‘to the basement’ refrain, while ‘Something Good Can Work’ grabs a huge bounce-along cheer. The witty opening shout of ‘Eat That Up It’s Good For You’ is clearly a fans favourite, with opener ‘Cigarettes In The Theatre’s fated tales of chance encounters changing lives comes over well.
The stage presence, though, is jaded. Front man Alex is vocally immaculate but notably reserved, while bassist Kevin – usually the joker of the bunch – seems somewhat in awe of the occasion. Having returned from a US awards ceremony only hours before the gig, perhaps jetlag has kicked in, but only tour drummer Ben – who performs with the energy of a man who’s simultaneously drumming and sitting on a trampoline – is really playing with his usual gusto.
Comparatively chilled though it might be, we can’t criticize the musical proficiency. The performance is tight, but it’s also refrained, not even close in intimacy and emotional affliction to the early 2010 shows, or the euphoric acoustic performances we witnessed late last year. In truth, the weaker album tracks are struggling for longevity after 12 months on our shelves, and with the energy at a bit of a low, the repetitive song writing of one or two really stands out. The newer tracks filling the middle of the set might produce a lull amongst the sing-along throngs and lack the immediately infectious melodies of the debut, but they’re a class above albums tracks like ‘This Is The Life’ and the painfully repetitive ‘Do You Want It All?’
Perhaps we’re just Two Door’d out: caught in the furore, this reviewer has seen the band half a dozen times since that Maccabees support slot early last year, and as the audience has got younger, the sound less fresh and the format fallen into one that ‘works’ but lacks spontaneity, the live show has floored audiences around the world but only waned in its affect on us. The same, seemingly, applies to the band themselves.
An encore of ‘I Can Talk’ is every bit as boisterous as you’d expect, but – while it’d be unfair to say Two Door have failed to deliver – tonight’s show has all the signs of some pretty significant tour fatigue. Having played more than 250 dates last year, it probably shouldn’t even come as a surprise, and with the Tourist History days all but over and a period of studio time in preparation for its follow up just around the corner, perhaps it’s time for Ireland’s most successful act of 2010 to start looking forward. They’ll do so with a passionate, youthful audience behind them ready to leap till their feet ache every single show, and as tonight’s euphoric reception shows, that applies even when things aren’t quite up to scratch.
Photos: Sara Devine