There’s something about the sweet anticipation of a gig you’re looking forward to that is hard to beat, there’s a tingling of the soul every time you hear a record or every time someone mentions the show.
The band had already announced their tour in February and based on the snippets, singles and chatter we had heard over the wires to that point, we were already looking forward to it.
Then Dogrel came along. Of all the albums that are likely to come across your virtual desk in a place like this Dogrel has been a constant, we haven’t listened to an album as much as we’ve listened to this one in a very long time, so, honestly, these boys better deliver.
Clearly, when we we’re asked to write the review back in April (!) we didn’t have anything in the diary. As push came to shove we’re obviously called upon to attend a fairly important meeting that also happened to be on the first day of a brand new contract and if sod’s law has anything to do with it, it’s in London.
Where else would it be?
While that caused a bit of consternation there was a determination to make it back in time the like of which we haven’t quite had in some time, there’s abject cruelty in looking forward to something for 9 months and then being disappointed that you can’t go, for whatever reason.
We’ve been to hundreds of gigs, we’re just back from a few days at a festival on the north coast of Ireland where there were no less than 50 shows; we do gigs, it’s second nature, a required activity, a lifeblood of sorts.
That and the whiskey.
But over the last 9 months, conversations have led us to consider the fact that collectively we haven’t looked quite so forward to a gig like this in a very long time, we’d hedge our bets and say we haven’t looked as forward to a gig as much as this since about the year of our lord 1995, as it happens.
We’ve been concerned that Fontaines D.C. have been pushing the limitations of what a human body can do with a schedule that would make larger men weep, they’ve had a relentless year that we’ve kept a close eye on to make sure they made it this far through.
As we climb off the 16.46 from London Euston into Lime Street (via a split ticketing wait at Crewe) we only hope they haven’t bored the arse off each other yet and are ready to rock and roll like five lads from the Liberties.
Before we get to one of Dublin’s finest there is the matter of Warm Drag to consider, a Los Angeles based duo of some repute. Warm Drag are Paul Quattrone and Vashti Windish, Quattrone, a drummer for Thee Oh Sees and a former member of !!! and Windish, a vocalist for the K-Holes, stumbled across each other in Los Angeles and it was a happy accident.
August 2018 saw the pair release debut long-player on the In the Red label, and it’s that which brings them on tour, they form a stack of electronic toys, synthesizers, cables and a wall of speakers.
Singer Vashti Windish swaggers on in a black leather jumpsuit with WARM DRAG studded across the back. The lights are hurt your eyes saturated and the beat is strut your stuff uber cool.
Their sound is a cross between Goldfrapp and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the background an electronic pulse and the vocals sultry and taunting. It’s like we’ve stumbled into a film set of a super cool but also dirty and graffiti stained underground New York nightclub. This would be that kind of soundtrack.
By the time Fontaines D.C. hit the stage at a little after nine the O2 is packed to bursting, the energy in the room is palpable, hanging in the air like money that’s been shifted to Dublin in preparation for Brexit, you can feel the tension.
They open with Hurricane Laughter and every note is soaked in reverb and turned up to 11, it’s as noisy a start as we’d hoped for, is perfectly fuzzy and gloriously threatening.
The banter from Grian is non-existent, but we’re not here for that, he weaves around the stage like a condemned man moments before the knock on the door that will take him to the stocks, it’s all balled up energy, Chequeless Reckless is raging fury delivered in a scratchy Dublin accent that’s seen the back of too many tour buses come this time of the year.
Televised Mind is a new track to us but it’s in exactly the frame we expect it, snarling, growling, glorious noise. Sha Sha Sha is delivered with enough bass to cause structural damage to the building and possibly the hotel next door and Television Screen brings everyone down, just a little mind, not too much, thankfully.
Roy’s Tune keeps everything low key and generates the greatest singalong so far, though to be fair, it might be harder to hear a singalong on any of the rest of it, though Roy’s Tune is kind of a song for every one of us, hey love, are you hanging on?
Too Real is met with a cheer and a blizzard of strobes, the guitars seem to take on a life of their own and it all gets a little mental.
We’re reminded that this is about as busy as we’ve ever seen this room, these boys are indeed about to make a lot of money, and after the 18 months they’ve had on the road they deserve every fucking penny.
It’s worth pointing out that 40 minutes into the set and Grian hasn’t uttered a single word, meanwhile, there is near eardrum damaging screams across the floor.
By the time we get to Boys In The Better Land, it is anyone’s guess who’s singing what given the sheer noise level from the, frankly, very attractive, choir. Dublin City Sky generates hugs aplenty and brings forth a sea of mobile phones.
Given the reaction at this end of proceedings, it’s fairly obvious that people have taken this band, this record and these moments to heart. Dublin City Sky is given a fairly serious kicking by Big, it woke the snoggers, lingerers and dreamers up at any rate.
And with that and very little fanfare, they were done.
No faffing about, no encore, no pretend encore, no nonsense, just proper rock and roll.
As we filter out on a cloud of sheer joy, there is just one thing I’m left to ponder, what with all the smashing that goes on, how many mic stands there are in the back of that bus parked outside?
Lead image by Lucy McLachlan