Engine Alley At The Grand Social – Review
Kilkenny guitar pop veterans Engine Alley made a much welcomed return to Dublin tonight for the first time in over five years. The band are known for their outlandish blend of glam rock and quirky pop music, as masterfully displayed in their 1992 debut, A Sonic Holiday. The darker, more riff driven Shot In The Light proved to be their second and last offering in 1995, yet the band have remained semi-active, playing shows every year in Kilkenny. Now, The Grand Social is paid a well overdue visit.
The band gingerly take the stage without any grand entrance, and immediately remind us of the grandeur of their tunes. Old favourites like the punchy ‘Telescope Girl’, are early in the set, and pull more and more of a crowd by the second. ‘Switch’, arguably the group’s finest single makes a surprisingly early appearance, evoking a rather lovely sing along from the majority of the crowd. The infectious melody and jangling chords are a match made in heaven, and they do it beautifully.
As the set progresses, the tightness and huge sound the band can produce is made very apparent. The omission of their classic violin sound is soon forgot about, as the lads plough through massive renditions of ‘Machine’ and a very animated ‘The Flowers’. For a band with only two albums, their back catalogue of timeless tunes is wonderful, and seemingly never ending.
Frontman Canice Kenealy takes a breather to say a few words, still as humorous and engaging as ever. ‘Diamond Jill And Crazy Jane’ gets the crowd bouncing, while the bluesy ‘Old Lovers In A Basement Flat’ gets the heads rocking. Even those in attendance who aren’t that familiar with the songs seem to have a connection to them. Kenealy’s sense of melody is surely one of the best this country has ever seen. ‘Mrs Winder’ signals the nearing of the end, as we’re informed that curfew fast approaches. The grand finale does not disappoint, culminating in 1992 single, ‘Infamy’, now everyone singing along blissfully.
Although they veered away from the limelight perhaps prematurely, there’s no doubt that Engine Alley are Irish rock royalty. Their tunes and unique charm are world class, with no band ever doing it as well as they did. It’s a mystery why bigger audiences weren’t to be for them, but for those lucky few at The Grand Social, it was magical.