Whoever’s idea it was to get these three bands onto one tour either has their finger firmly to the pulse of the Irish music scene as it stands, has a canny head for marketing, or just really gets each of them and their music. Each are at a similar point in their career development, so each has a similar draw. Each are related by their ability to make a unexpectedly large noise, to create textures and sounds entirely at odds with their on-stage appearance. Each are entirely made up of the most genuine, honest and enthusiastic musicians Dublin has to offer. Friday’s Workman’s Club gig was one entirely devoid of posturing and shape-throwing, and one entirely suffused with good feeling and genuine celebration of the fun in live performance. That’s not to say, of course, that any of these bands are unused to performance, or unprofessional in any way. But it is a rare occurrence within Irish indie that confidence, (or sometimes lack of) does not evolve into over-confidence, or pleasure in acknowledgement into arrogance.
Having heard the hype before the band, this reviewer was less than enchanted with Windings. Oh, they’re fine and all, obviously excellent musicians, some good songs, just fortunate that on this night they were first on the bill and didn’t have to follow the sheer imagination of We Cut Corners or driving power of The Ambience Affair. Another night, another gig, and Windings could have blown their audience away. We Cut Corners however, back after a break recording their debut album at Asylum Studios, are becoming stronger with every turn. Their stage presence has grown, songwriting become even stronger, their technical ability come into its own, their sound become more balanced, and yet their songs are still as aggressive and sweet in equal amounts, as equally disarming and charming as they were when their performances were still raw. What will always stand out about We Cut Corners, is the quite frankly enormous sound they manage to extract from the simplest set-ups and without any technological trickery.
That is not to in any way disparage The Ambience Affair’s characteristic looping and sampling. Technology is, in this case at least, a means to the same end, to create the best possible texture and sound with your resources: as soon as the audience stop noticing it, you have succeeded. Live sampling and looping is of course not a new idea, but in this way The Ambience Affair are one of the very few who can really claim to have mastered it. Their shows no longer revolve around lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Jamie’s technological fiddling, but around their driving rhythms, dense textures, and – cliché though it may be – very catchy. The recruitment of a new bassist to their live set-up only served to further beef up a sound that was big enough already. This was one of the strongest performances by a band who are on the cusp of being the biggest bands in Dublin, and who are already one of the best.