Fred – Irish Band of the Week
After fifteen years, four albums and hundreds of shows worldwide, Cork-based indie rock/pop band Fred are calling it a day at the end of December following a last stretch of five gigs around Ireland. Without getting into specifics in their blog post, they go out with a vague, “Simply it’s now time for us to move on”. It’s overdramatic to call a band’s lost interest a tragedy, but it’s certainly a shame for such a hard-working and entertaining act to disappear.
The band reached the attention of the nation with the release of third album, ‘Go God Go’ in 2008, an astonishingly good collection of thirteen tracks without a single weak link. From the big-band groove of ‘Running’ and the straight rock of ‘Damn You Hollywood’, to the glum ‘We Should Keep On’, Fred always maintain a cunning lyrical flair. But throughout, the band retain an energy and nuance that many bands fail to reach, typified in ‘The Lights Are With Us’ displaying all the hallmark features of a Fred song: upbeat and melodic, with an enormous hook for a chorus, followed by a bridge, and then a climax wherein the two collide to overlap as a glorious outro.
The following album ‘Leaving My Empire’, recorded mainly in Montreal, was released in 2011, further developing the massive group harmonies of the last record. Though of a somewhat less buoyant mood then before, with more downbeat tracks like ‘Eleven’, ‘The Life Behind’ and ‘Somewhere Else’, it still retained the overwhelming positivity they’re known for in ‘Fears and Remedies’, ‘If Not Now When’ and ‘We Are the City Now’. It remains a stellar album. This year, a recently-finished leftover from the Montreal sessions, ‘Battles’, was released, as what appears to be their final single.
Their records can be deceiving, but in the live setting it very quickly becomes apparent the sheer talent among the members. On top form, Fred are one of those bands that simply make you not want to bother making your own music anymore, having witnessed their abilities, but mostly their chemistry. Though the elegant, soaring vocals of Joseph O’Leary (with an amusing interjection of an unexpectedly strong Cork accent in between tunes) stand out against the exceptional multi-instrumentalist backdrop, it’s really their understanding as a band that captivates me. Throw in infectiously amusing personalities, and the band become an absolute joy to see in concert. Unfortunately, there haven’t been all that many trips to those of us in the east recently for Fred, but their gig in Wexford in 2011, despite being seated, remains in my top 10 of all time.
One last chance to see them, lads. I wouldn’t miss it.
Thursday, 5th December: Whelan’s, Dublin, 8pm
Friday, 13th December: De Barras, Clonakilty, 9pm
Sunday, 15th December: Roisin Dubh, Galway, 8pm
Friday, 27th December: The Pavillion, Cork, 7pm
Friday, 28th December: The Pavillion, Cork, 8pm. (SOLD OUT)
Article by Conor Cosgrave