Wolfmother would have been forgiven for skipping this Dublin date. Sales of their latest release Cosmic Egg have been poor in Ireland (it lasted only one week in the top 100 after entering at a lowly 55th). But rather than fall victim to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ like many before them in similar situations, Stockdale and Co. bit the bullet and chose to kick-start their European tour in the Olympia. It would seem that it paid off too – tickets sold out minutes before the band took to the stage, perhaps somewhat unsurprising, given it was only their second appearance in the Republic.
Anyone who remembered their first appearance (a mid-day slot on the NME Stage at Oxegen ’06) would have been surprised at the ferocity of the band that took to the Olympia’s stage tonight. Gone are the white trenchcoats and awkward pauses between songs. In are Aboriginal flags and comfortable jeans. Wolfmother are now a tighter – and more energetic – band that they have ever been. It is a given that they are still verging on the farcical with their riffs stolen straight from Sabbath and with Stockdale’s vocals which owe more than a nod to Robert Plant. However, Wolfmother now possesses enough impressive tunes of their own to rise above these often overstated complaints. This became apparent when ‘Woman’ was dispatched four songs in and followed quickly by a simply stunning rendition of their latest single ‘New Moon Rising’. ‘White Unicorn’, ‘Collossal’ and ‘Apple Tree’ completed the impressive quintet of ear-drum bursting goodness.
With Andrew Stockdale as the only original band member left, it is not surprising who steals the limelight. The rest of the band are dressed head-to-toe in black and deliver solid, if a little cringe-inducing performances. New bass player, Ian Peres is the most guilty. His contorted face and suggestive poses were laughable, but thankfully they were kept to a minimum. The frontman though, was a joy to watch. His leaps from drumkit to guitar pedals were incredible and his Angus Young duck-walk impressions were knowingly tongue-in-cheek. And despite best efforts, it was hard not to enjoy.
A brief, but nasty scuffle in the pit (dealt with impressively by security) had the effect of muting a spooked crowd, until frontman Stockdale took control. “It’s good to be back in Dublin”, he smiled, “but go easy, yeah?”. He told stories about how his brother was duped into paying to play in an Irish venue some years back and followed it with some stronger album material. The encore was inevitable, but despite their best attempts, only one song was managed before calls for ‘Joker’ became too loud to ignore. A teasing introduction saw an extended piece of guitar tomfoolery that was as visually impressive as it was aurally brilliant. The tune itself was delivered perfectly note-for-note.
There’s nobody out there rocking like Wolfmother right now. Probably because the genre is long dead, but more likely because they don’t care about anything else.
Photos also by Sean Conroy.