LIR at Whelan’s – Review
Irish rock group LiR played a packed out gig in one of their favourite venues, Whelan’s, on Saturday 22nd of June.
Lights onstage were dimmed before LiR took to the stage as the floor area of the renowned gig venue filled to bursting. The swollen crowd welcomed the 5-piece band to the stage with a roar of cheers, woops and raised beers.
They opened with a slowish number with gentle lyrics ‘Two Worlds’, which allowed everyone to get a few drinks in before things really kicked off, cajoling the audience forward before the loud rock finish. The following number, ‘Into Our Dreams’, combined stunning harmonies with a beat that had toes tapping from the stage to the door. They continued the variation of tone with a slightly softer, pop-ier number ‘More to Me’ before getting hands waving in the air to ‘Fence’.
The rock sound really kicked off with 5th track ‘Temple Child’ which had crowd members jumping and the audience singing sections back to the band. The atmosphere continued to take off as the proceeded with ‘Groove Improvement’ which was one of the best and most energetically banging tracks of the evening. With its loud start and quick lyrics it was rock in its purest most classic form, reminiscent of 50s style in parts and with a phenomenal shredding guitar solo. While the crowd screamed their appreciation the band politely asked for any requests before kicking off ‘Dog Rhythms’ which had every single person in the place dancing around and grooving to the jazzy improvisation in the lyrics. This song segued straight into ‘3 Legs’ whose heavy beat and rocking chorus were just a little U2-esque and which featured another over-whelming guitar solo and energetic tambourine playing which drew woops and yeows from the crowd.
Lead singer, David McGuiness, then popped offstage for a moment while the rest of the band kept the show going with ‘Railroad’, a purely instrumental number that got the camera phones in the air and even started a mini-moshpit. They kept the track interesting by constantly and fluidly varying the musical styling so that it was just as engaging without the need for lyrics. McGuiness returned as they played straight on into ‘In the Parlour’ a head-banging belter that had even the band dancing onstage. ‘In a Day’ saw the return of the acoustic guitar and pared back the instrumental sound a little bit to put the emphasis on the vocals as they asked the audience to sing along.
After giving the other guitarist a chance to take over the vocals in ‘Wicker Man’ they honoured the maker of the film ‘Good Cake, Bad Cake’ by inviting him up to sing the song of the same title. The film is about LiR’s highs-and-lows journey to fame. They also paid tribute to the deceased singer Nick Drake by playing ‘Northern Lights’ from his album ‘Brighter Later’. The artist is a favourite of the band, who often play a cover of him at their gigs. The song was a little softer and gentler than their own style with gorgeous lyrics and striking harmonies.
They picked the energy back up with an upbeat new song that had everyone dancing around, got the atmosphere rocking again and really felt like a party with the flashing stage lights and the enthusiasm of the crowd. They then brought up a friend of the band Barry O’Brien to sing their song ‘Halcyon’ and he did it just as well McGuiness himself! The audience started a slow clap from the beginning but at the chorus everything broke out into a burst of sound with the audience jumping high and carrying on the party atmosphere.
There was then a brief pause where the band went offstage and the patrons howled for more-devastated that the party might be ending early. The band returned to riotous enthusiasm and invited up two more friends, including support act Jimmy Mitchell, to sing the Fairport Convention classic ‘Meet on the Ledge’. The three vocalists harmonised powerfully while the audience raised their glasses and sang along to the catchy chorus creating and almost festival-like atmosphere, everyone joined together by the sound.
Keeping the already buzzing energy on the up-and-up, they played a fantastic cover of ‘What Difference Does It Make’ by The Smiths. The energy went from high to absolutely electric and the whole audience was going wild while the band fed off the energy.
Before playing their final song, the band briefly plugged their next concert (on September 21st ) before diving into ‘There Are More Things’. They made the audience part of the band for this last number. The audience carried the tune while McGuiness swung the mic in rockstar fashion and later they toned the instrumental line right back so they could hear the audience singing for them. The song exploded into a final climactic point with a dramatic flurry of energy and pure uproar from the elated fans.
LiR have an incredible and infectious energy and power. They kept this energy, and indeed the quality of the music, up throughout the entirety of the long set. Perhaps the only thing better than their music, so exceptionally easy to enjoy, was the fact that every expression and movement showed that they loved playing almost more than the audience enjoyed listening. A truly fantastic set that was like a mini festival in the cosy comfort of the pub surroundings. Great group, great crowd and phenomenal energy.
Review by Kat Clinch