Leading Armies at the Grand Social – Review and Photos
Leading Armies at the Grand Social – November 16th 2013
Support act for the night, Fox.E and the Good Hands, found themselves opening to a rather bare floor at the Grand Social. This failed to hamper their energy as Eimear Fox launched into their first song “Black Addition.” Their confidence was unwavering; a band raring for a good night and inciting the kind of banter the crowd needed. Their sound quickly drew people in to fill the floor as they set the funk rock tempo for the evening; evidently the perfect band to open for Leading Armies.
Initially intrigued by bounding energy and powerful vocals from Eimear Fox, I was left disappointed by the lyrical quality and overpowering instruments. Though all evidently talented musicians in their own right, when put together, it’s almost as if they cancel each other out. Unapologetic, fearless vocals fight for a place amongst a concoction of hard-line riffs, stellar drumming and some oddly placed synth. Lyrically, the rap sections steal lines from a myriad of well-known artists and lack originality. The bottom-line is – everything needs to be simplified to form a band rather than a showcase of accomplished musicians. They manage to do this for their last song – “Unfortunately”, and consequently it serves as the best track of their set.
The Leading Armies LP has been hotly anticipated for months and, despite the wait, they haven’t let us down. Taking to the Grand Social tonight, they’re accompanied by members of the Markevin Light Orchestra. Both the stage and the floor are packed out as their intro kicks in. It’s pleasing to see such a large Dublin contingent warmly welcoming a relatively small band from out of town. With the intro as slow and soulful as always – you never really expect the incoming funk rock explosion and it charms the floor.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing the Grand Social before, strings of bulbs hang from a red and green tented ceiling. It sets an atmosphere that can’t quite be matched, and Leading Armies take full advantage. The bulbs fade in and out in time to the tantalising intro. In all my time at the venue, I’ve never seen an Irish band utilise the lighting set up to its full capabilities; it paid off. By the time the crashing wave of funk finally hits you, you’re already mesmerised.
The six piece collective provide a physically charged performance, as we’ve come to expect from them, and the crowd join in. It’s impossible not to engage with the band and their ska-tinged funk rock; and the new EP brings that to a higher level. It’s simply a pity that the stage proved cramped for the band and their featured orchestra members at this launch, hampering frontman Glen Scully’s usual moves.
Personally, I’ve always felt the band translate better on a live stage than they do in recording. Regardless, this new LP is the best the sextet have sounded and it finally feels like they’re coming into their own with recording. Six part harmonies are rife in the new LP, “Let’s Get Serious”, and are an enthralling feature of their live show. Tonight is the kind of performance other Irish bands should strive to create. This band demands a larger stage than they have and this LP is deserving of a wide audience.
The LP “Let’s Get Serious” is available for download from their bandcamp by clicking here.
Haven’t heard them yet? Check out their latest single, with a live video from their LP launch at Dolan’s Warehouse, Limerick!
Review and Photos by Laur Ryan