- 26 Sep 02
The Hayes live experience is nothing less than first class
Given that this was a sort of homecoming, it seemed a little odd at first that Gemma Hayes chose to make such a low-key return to Dublin. But with one scheduled Whelans date rapidly escalating into three straight sold out shows, it all becomes hugely fitting.
This is not about Hayes returning with a cocky swagger, international acclaim stuffed in her back pocket, to play one big gig before buggering back off to the arms of the London music types. It’s about a full national tour, taking in the sort of places that, as the singer will later admit, she used to play when she couldn’t even afford to pay her band for their time. When she mentions her Mercury Music Prize nomination it’s with a quiet but obvious pride that no one in the room can fail to share.
The Hayes live experience is nothing less than first class. Watching her and her excellent band unleash wave after wave of exquisite noise (helped by the best live sound to be heard in a while), you realise just how unfortunate her enforced Witnness no-show was. In these more intimate surroundings, however, everything clicks. The quieter, acoustic side of her material achieves a wonderfully warm, intimate quality (a stunning ‘Back Of My Hand’ is dedicated sweetly to Mic Christopher) while ‘Hanging Around’, ‘Lucky One’ – and ‘Let A Good Thing Go’ – reach heights of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine style aural envelope pushing. Newie ‘Stop The Wheel’ combines the two to perfect effect, a gentle intro sliding into a massive, swirling climax that leaves you breathless before its sheer scope and vision.