Saturday, July 2, 2011

Review: The Walls at The Grand Social 01/07/11

The Walls brought their two man show to the Grand Social on Friday previewing songs from their forthcoming album "Stop the Lights" and turning back the years with hits from their previous albums and musical incarnations. The unique selling point of this tour is of course the virtual band. A real life Gorrillaz if you will, consisting of amongst others Bellx1 drummer Rory Doyle.
The virtual band is mixed with projections of wind turbines, natural landscapes and the four elements. But it is the virtual band that makes The Walls visuals standout from other bands backdrops. Cynics would say that this is just a ploy to distract the audience from the fact that backing tracks are being used or that it is an excuse to only pay the band once. And while their may be an element of truth in this, there is no doubting that this show has allowed The Walls to become modern day troubadours with a big sound. And of course it's the songs and Steve Wall's distinctive speak/sing vocals people pay to hear, not the mandolin solo.

The band kick things off with their biggest post Stunning hit "To the Bright and Shining Sun" presented fittingly, in a much grittier fashion than the AIB advertisement it originally accompanied. Steve Wall's voice is built for radio, instantly recognisable and yet somehow able to genre hop with ease. The guitar work (all live) is top notch with Joe Wall in particular delivering the knockout pop riffs.  "Bone Deep" the highlight of their beat laden debut album "Hi/Low" is the best of the bands older material.

The Walls, new material appears to be heavily influenced by Bob Dylan and Tom Petty which may leave fans of Noah and The Whale ripe for the picking. The criminally overlooked radio friendly single "Carrying the Fire" is surely one of the best Irish songs of the year. While "Phantom Power" is much better live than on record, thanks to the guitar and Joe's vocals being more prevalent. Current single "Bird in a Cage" which gets two outings, is well received by the audience.  Joe Wall gets his moment in the sun taking the lead vocal on an excellent version of Phill Lynott's "Old Town"

The brothers Wall finish up with their signature song "Brewing Up a Storm" which still packs a punch after all these years. On the whole a slick show.

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