Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: The Walls At Whelans

Joe and Steve Wall, have spent the last few years driving around Ireland performing their very successful two-man show. This show featured backing tracks and recorded visuals of the band performing the songs, while the brothers sang and played guitar live. Tonight would be The Walls, first show as a full band for many years and much like a classic car, that only gets driven once in a blue moon, they spluttered and splattered to begin with, even backfired once or twice. But once the engine warmed up they started to purr, and as they went up the gears, they started to growl, like they’d never been away.

Joe delivered a good vocal performance on Bird in a Cage, and did well to keep his head as the gremlins did their best to disturb him as the performance got off to a bumpy start. Deadflowers the rockiest track on new album ‘Stop The Lights’, saw the band slip into high gear with a gritty memorable performance. Single Phantom Power continued things at a higher standard after the ropy beginning. Joe delivers an impressive falsetto vocal, and the band were joined on stage by Bill Blackmore, Ireland’s premier trumpet session player, giving the song a mariachi feel.

The gremlins returned on a below par rendition of Doodlesque, as the up and down nature of the performance continued  Arcade Fire tinged The Great Escape was much improved as was the Zooropa era  U2-esque ballad It Goes Without Saying. Black and Blue from previous album ‘New Dawn Breaking’ featured Bell X1 stickman Rory Doyle on lead vocals. With a voice this good it would be a shame if Doyle does not front a band or go solo at some stage. A bluegrass re-imagining of Bone Deep from 2000′s Hi/Low brought the low point of the evening, as it all unravelled once again, but thankfully for the last time.

There seems to be a new-found determination from here on; with a consistent improvement from song to song, to the point one could hardly believe it was the same band, who started the show with Carrying The Fire.  Joe seemed like a man possessed delivering a wonderful rendition of  May The Road Rise To You, Steve similarly so on Thanks For The Photographs before To The Bright And Shining Sun ignited the slightly perplexed crowd. By the time The Walls delivered an exquisite version of Bird In A Cage it was hard to see it getting any better. But a sizzling version of Joe Cocker’s Summer in the City brought things up another level. A heavy hitting version of fan favourite Drowning Pool finished off one of the most bizarre gigs in Whelans history, in considerable style.

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