Gig Review: The Meteor Live Sessions – Delorentos / Fionn Regan / The Strypes
Pros:Fionn Regan's new songs are crisp and sweet, Delorentos give it socks
Cons:Le Galaxie pull out at short notice, The Strypes need to write their own songs lest they be forever labelled a novelty act
The first episode of Meteor’s three-part venture into the depth’s of Dublin’s Hipsteropolis features a covers band, a singer songwriter and a band booked on 4 hours’ notice on Junior Cert results night. What could possibly go wrong?
The Workmans Club’s reputation as a live venue has risen faster than an atheist’s blood pressure at the Eucharistic Congress, so it’s no surprise that Meteor, patrons of both Ireland’s biggest music awards night and most accredited music award, elected to use it as the venue for their latest audio adventure mini-series in collaboration with Today FM’s Paul McLoone Show. An extensive guestlist and a live studio set-up flank the incoming visitors/fans/ticket winners/inebriated. As the first act takes the stage, McLoone introduces them with the little tidbit of information that tonight’s original headliners, Le Galaxie, have pulled out at the last minute and have been replaced by Delorentos. The crowd seems to accept this information with a mild incredulity, but that may just be the booze taking control. Inhibitions dropped. Phasers set to ‘enjoy self at all costs’.
The Strypes’ biggest disadvantage is that you know exactly what they sound like before they so much as move their lips. Armed with impossibly-Merseyside haircuts and carefully tailored military-style suit jackets, they treat the mostly receptive crowd to some rockabilly and a bottle o’ blues. Being 15 (give or take) years of age, it’s no crime to wear your influences on your sleeves – the guitarist’s strap has pictures from the cover of A Hard Day’s Night emblazoned on – but they don’t offer anything new or original, their set drowned in garage versions of Chuck Berry, Earl Hines and Bo Diddley covers. The crowd has a good time, bopping as much as Dublin audiences allow themselves to, but The Strypes seem condemned to forever be in search of a fanbase that wears only polka dot dresses and enjoys dancing the mashed potato, having taken enough drugs to believe they’re caught in a real-life episode of Happy Days. They leave the stage after 7 songs, the last of which takes up about half the length of their set. They may have great success as a pub band, but the novelty of being so young will wear off all too quickly.
After half an hour’s break, Fionn Regan humbly makes his way to the microphone, perpetually thanking the audience; the contrast between his soft demeanour and the ‘these-go-to-11’ performance of The Strypes is about as subtle as whiplash. He commands a decent level of respect from those gathered. Attentive fans in the dark shush other, louder fans in the dark as casual conversation threatens to dominate the acoustic guitar. Regan plays four tracks off his new album, The Bunkhouse Vol I: Anchor Black Tattoo, before playing ‘Dogwood Blossom’ from his previous record. Then just one more new song and he’s off after a shade over 20 minutes onstage.
When Delorentos eventually come on, reaction is mixed. People flow in and out, the flux of bodies generally keeping the room at a steady ‘half-full’. Plenty have left to catch the last bus, some die-hard Le Galaxie fans have left in gentle, silent disgust, others just couldn’t care. I have a lot of sympathy for a band in this situation. Le Galaxie themselves will know this pain from their previous incarnation as 66e, when they, unannounced, replaced a mysteriously withdrawn Bright Eyes at Oxegen 2005 to much the same result: a half-emptied tent and the half who are left weighing up whether it’s worth staying to see a band they don’t know and didn’t come for. It’s a no-win scenario, but Delorentos seek to make the best of it. They open up with ‘Pace Yourself’ from this years’ Little Sparks and, in the true Irish ‘fuck it anyway’ spirit, put on the kind of show you’d expect a much bigger band to give to a sold-out arena, and all watching lose themselves in the music once more.