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Sweet Jane

The Mercantile, Dublin

Craig Fitzpatrick, 05 Oct 2012

Life after former frontwoman Lydia Des Dolles begins now for Sweet Jane. And, while songwriter and architect Danda Paxton is ever-present, change is afoot. So it proves tonight at the Mercantile, billed as a showcase for the well-respected Reekus roster and one of the first chances for the Dublin faithful to catch a load of Sweet Jane Mark 2.

Before that, the whimsical Keith Moss takes to the stage. A thoughtful, intelligent writer of psychedelic pop, he’s a lithe performer of real potential. Deetrich, the vehicle for Kilkenny artist Dee Doyle, keeps the quality up, marrying acoustic strums with real bounce and some Pretenders vibes. Having only recently signed to Reekus, the following night finds her launching her debut Tug Of War in her hometown. Two voices to listen out for in future.

Back in the here and now, Danda and his new band of brothers take their bow. And it proves to be a real family affair. Alongside Donagh O’Brien, still a powerhouse behind the skins, we have the Brothers Paxton. Danda dead centre with that ever distinctive ‘tache, Ruairi completing the rhythm section, Neil taking care of keys and Conor adding to the live guitar racket. Leather clad and downcast, they look like the last gang in town and have the scuzzy Mary Chain vibe to match. But the absence of Lydia is felt. This evening, the wonder captured on Sugar For My Soul, on songs like ‘Black Eyes’, is simply not there. They’ve lost a certain Velvets femininity and that strange otherness to their sound, moving away from dreamy, glazed shoegaze and into biker territory. Indeed, they basically approximate Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at times, being a mash of black leather influences. One number is basically Brian Jonestown Massacre’s ‘When Jokers Attack’ stripped of the punch. They start strongly and there’s no doubting the power and drive of their performance or their instrumental ability.

Danda has a thousand melodies up his sleeve but there’s always the nagging feeling that they’re also rattling around his record collection. And there’s a voice, a presence – something that sets them utterly apart from the other contenders – that’s missing. Ultimately, you’re left with the feeling that the best of this incarnation is yet to come. Early days all over again.

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