- 30 Oct 17
Liam Gallagher gets the finger out, as The Strypes and TOUTS snap at his heels. Hangar-on: Pat Carty
There’s an airport in Lucan? It was news to me. We’re here for the second night of the inaugural Samhain Festival. Annie Mac, Le Galaxie, Kelly Anne Byrne and a load of other turntablists did the business on the Saturday, tonight is for rockers. We’re going to need some rockin’ too because the gaff is bloody freezing, punters are worried about potential sound problems as they shuffle from foot to foot – we’re in a hangar after all – but it all works out surprisingly well.
Derry’s TOUTS are up first. They were one of the Saturday highlights at this year’s Electric Picnic and they’re even better tonight. Imagine The Clash’s first album, only louder and harder - military drumming, trashing guitars, rumbling bass, spitted lyrics. ‘Saturday Night Scumbag’, ‘Go Fuck Yourself’, ‘Sold Out’, and ‘Bomb Scare’ are all delivered at about a thousand miles an hour. Guitar solos? Fuck that, we haven’t got the time. When one song goes on past three minutes, it’s almost like prog rock when compared to the rest of them. Never mind guitar strings, Matthew Crossan probably goes through a couple of guitar tuners a gig, such is the ferocity with which he abuses his telecaster. He also looks a bit like a cross between Fergal Sharkey and a young Steve Marriott, which helps. After a snatch of ‘The Auld Triangle’, a coruscating version of Van’s ‘Gloria’ ends with Crossan pointing his guitar at the crowd like a sniper’s gun, mowing us down. They’re brilliant.
Who is Ross Farrelly’s tailor? That suit is sharp as a blade. I’ve said it before but The Strypes seem to get better every time you see them. ‘Behind Closed Doors’, ‘Easy Riding’, and ‘Holidays’ are all winners from this year’s Spitting Image. ‘Angel Eyes’, from their first album, is now a beefed up cross between Led Zeppelin I and the harder edge of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, and finds room to quote from The Beatles’ ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’. I’m stood beside Today FM producer and DJ, Kate Brennan Harding, an Oasis/Gallagher nutter, whose help is invaluable later on when there are songs that I don’t recognise. She reckons that ‘Get Into It’, a QOTSA like number from their second album, Little Victories, is one of the best Irish songs of the last ten years. It’s good, but it’s not as good as ‘Great Expectations’, which is introduced with Lizzy’s ‘Cowboy Song’ riff. They finish out with ‘What A Shame’, ‘Still Gonna Drive You Home’, and ‘Scumbag City Blues’. I have to mention bass player Pete O’Hanlon. If the world ever runs short of amphetamine sulphate, we can most likely synthesise a replacement from O’Hanlon’s blood. He never stops jumping, like a chicken attempting a fire walk. He makes Wilko Johnson look like an arthritic librarian.
In the short time between the Strypes and Gallagher, the crowd appears to double in size, and the venue morphs into a seventies football stadium. The grinning faithful break into chants of “LIAM-O!” roaring, shouting and whistling in the excited wait for kick off. The opening bars of ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ bring a howl of recognition, which approaches a jet engine level that this room must be used to when Gallagher walks on stage. He’s looking fit and trim, sporting a no-nonsense crew cut and a no doubt ridiculously expensive parka. He is spectacularly handsome, the bastard. We can argue about his musical merit from now until next year, but there is no denying his charismatic presence. Whatever ‘it’ is, he has a shed of it.
‘Rock N’ Roll Star’ and ‘Morning Glory’. Just think about that opening for a minute. If he had jumped back in the van there and then, we wouldn’t have felt short changed. His debut solo album, As You Were, isn’t even a month old yet, but this adoring throng volley every word of ‘Greedy Soul’ and ‘Wall Of Glass’ back at the stage. The latter proves yet again that nobody does sibilance like Liam, who else could make the double s of the song title sound like something you should cross the street to avoid, unless you’d like to wake up with a crowd around you?
Other album tracks are just descending Beatle chord sequences that blend into one another, although ‘For What It’s Worth’ sticks out. Is this head case actually owning up and saying sorry? Before we have time to probably mull over any of that soppy shit, Gallagher hits us with ‘Slide Away’. People are up on shoulders waving phones in the air in ecstasy. Shirts would surely be coming off too, if there were anything resembling a radiator within a square mile.
‘Slide Away’ proves too much for Kate - she gets a bit teary eyed, and she’s not alone either. Isn’t this what we all want? Music to move us, to stir something inside, to give us a charge that all the technology/social media/Instagram/snapchat/video-on-demand soul sucking can never deliver? You might think Hot Press was busy taking notes, maintaining a professional decorum, but you’d be wrong - I was roaring along with the rest of them. ‘Some Might Say’ has the crowd “singing” the guitar intro which causes even Gallagher himself to crack a grin, he even gets a huge repose for just putting up his hood during ‘You Better Run’, and ‘Be Here Now’ is welcomed like a classic, rather than the half-baked coked up nonsense that it is.
A monumental ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ – The Faces playing T.Rex after a case of Blue Nun - follows after a short break, and, to close things out, ‘Wonderwall’. You have to hand it to Gallagher; he knows what people want and he’s happy to give it to them. There’s a false start due to some technical difficulties before the crowd take over completely. The Pope in the Park would have been happy with this reception. “You’ve been the bollocks!” says Gallagher, before he goes. It’s a great finish to a great night. Are there any tickets left for Malahide?