Codes at Whelan’s – Review & Photos
London-based Irish alt-rockers Codes launched their excellent new album AALTARS to a loyal army of devotees in Whelan’s on Saturday night. Having played sporadic Dublin shows in the last few years to road test their new material, the Whelan’s gig was a celebration of the completion and release of a record six years in the making. Opening with uptempo new track ‘Shapeshifter’, Codes immediately set their stall out to highlight just how different their new material really is. Released this week to rave reviews, AALTARS is a far more technical record than the band’s debut Trees Dream in Algebra, with the songs infused with a raw aggressive energy. Whilst tonight is mostly about the new material, several old songs also get an airing with ‘You Are Here’ and the epic ‘Cities’ reminding the crowd just how good their 2009 debut really was.
‘Bleed Blue’, the most prog-rock moment of the new record, is even more impressive in its live incarnation, its first half full of ominous synths and building vocal hooks, whereas its latter half bears a strong post-rock influence, arriving amidst a torrent of guitar white noise before gradually building to a furiously loud closing section. Stripping their songs down to the bare bones is not something Codes do very often, however tonight’s performance of ‘Starry Eyed’ is all the better for it, its soaring chorus sounding every bit as impressive without the studio bells and whistles. It also gives frontman Daragh Anderson’s pitch perfect live vocals a chance to shine.
Such are the technical demands of the new material, only an A+ grade drummer will do. New sticksman Alex Mummery shows he’s more than up to the task with a terrific performance, never missing a beat throughout. Songs such as ‘Triangulum’ and ‘Irya’ are complex pieces, shifting between live and processed drums. The tightness of the band on stage showcases the band’s exemplary musicianship and serves as a testament to the hard graft they have put in over the years. One can only imagine how good these songs could be in larger venues with bigger stage production values. Ending their main set with one of the new records more melodically focussed songs ‘Meridian Square’, the band depart to warm applause.
Returning on the stage to the sci-fi style atmospherics of ‘Malfunctions’, the band then launch into a rousing rendition of 2009’s ‘This Is Goodbye’ before finishing up with traditional set closer, the gorgeous six minute epic ‘4 Winters’. With two marvellous filler-free albums to choose from, the show was never going to be anything but a triumph. Add in a loyal receptive audience and a band who were visually delighted to be back on stage again, and you have a terrific night of live music.
Review by Gary O’Donnell
Photos by Tara Stanhope