Boosted by the appearance of their track 'I Can See Clearly Now' on The Grand Tour, Hothouse Flowers are in the ascendant again. Hot Press went down to Vicar Street to see the band in action.
The Flowers get a raw deal. Yes, there has on occasion been an inescapable aura of lentils/bare feet off them, but on the other hand (foot?), they’ve made some fine records - I’d argue over pints that Songs From The Rain is one of the great lost Irish albums.
They’ve got soul, and no amount of magic bracelets or gypsy fairs are going to change that. Live, they’re always great, and tonight sees a celebration of their recent commercial kick in the arse from Jeremy Clarkson.
The seriously lunged Lisa Lambe supports, looking like a young Stevie Nicks dressed as a bishop, backed with tasteful restraint by a bunch of Flowers. 'Hazelwood' is a lovely song. She’s got something.
The one-two opening combo of 'See-line Woman' and 'Motherless Child', Nina Simone by way of Van Morrison, only adds weight to my Flowers-Got-Soul hypothesis. 'Love Don’t Work This Way' then segues into a mighty 'Si Do Mhamo í'. On 'This Is It (Your Soul)', Liam “Suibne Geilt” Ó Maonlaí doesn’t even bother with a microphone, controlling the room with a wave of his hand, and that voice, which remains a thing of wonder.
He dances, he howls, he plays the piano, he gives it some authentically Malian acoustic guitar on Afel Boucoum’s “Ali Farka”. Later, he delivered a baby and fixed my car, the marvellously talented bastard.
One could say he gave it socks throughout, if only he had brought a pair to give. Fiachna Ó Braonáin, a proper guitar player in the Steve Cropper tradition of listening as much as playing, also manages to burn the face off the first three rows armed only with a tin whistle, and I suspect Peter O’Toole could get a tune out of a ball of twine if you flung it at him. They don’t even bother with 'I Can See Clearly Now', although we do get the lovely 'Three Sisters' off the new album, and they close with a West Africa Highlife reworking of 'Don’t Go'.
Yes, it includes a drum solo, which there was no call for, but sure let them off. Leopardstown in July would be a good bet.
Joyous. Go and see them.
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