Palma Violets at The Workman’s Club – Review

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palma-violetsPalma Violets at The Workman’s Club – April 8th

Tuesday saw garage rock outfit Palma Violets play the Workman’s Club as part of their five-date “Bog Tour”, as it’s being referred to, of the main stops in Ireland. Although a band barely three years in existence, their retro, reverb-laden sound has taken them pretty much worldwide already, an impressive feat by any metric, with upwards of 150 dates in 2013 alone. Last year’s debut album, ‘180’, came on the back of a heavy push from NME, including first single ‘Best of Friends’ named their 2012 song of the year.

The material brings to mind the Ramones, the Replacements, and pretty much every proto-punk band there is, with the addition of organ and dual vocalists, which reside under a permanent telephone effect. They retain this nostalgic sound in the live setting, apparent from the very first words of opener ‘Rattlesnake Highway’. Material for the gig, naturally, is drawn almost entirely from their debut album, but they scatter a few new songs into the set, which seem to be of genuine quality.

However, the key learning point from their gigs remains the staggering disparity between them on record and in concert. The pleasant upbeat melodies of ‘180’ become a ferocious assault in person, led by the QUOP-like Chilli, who flops around the stage like a recently-birthed fawn, but whose bass delivers bodyshot after bodyshot of intriguing low-end. Keyboardist Jeffrey Mayhem, by comparison, seems almost serene as he calmly taps his keys, but the energy the four produce is sublime, met in equal by that of the buoyant crowd up front.  In doing so, they succeed in a task which many excellent bands have failed at – bringing an audience who’s actually up for it to the Workman’s, and even manage to do it on a Tuesday night.

Their last gig in Ireland was in December 2012 in Bruxelles, but this set is about 30 minutes shorter. It’s a rare and strange thing to say, but the shorter set suits them better, having cut out some of the slower, meandering tracks such as ‘Three Stars’ that drains the life from crowds, and which now amounts to a relentless forty-five minutes. Consequently the necessity of every track is far more convincing, and they hit all the key spots with ‘Best of Friends’, ‘We Found Love’ and ‘Step Up for the Cool Cats’ bringing out the best of both the band and the on-lookers. However, it’s a track which underwhelmed on record which winds up the highlight, ‘Chicken Dippers’ brooding “You made me feel like I was the only one” refrain and subsequent trashiness standing out among the others.

It’s tough to quantify what exactly about Palma Violets created such a perplexingly ardent fanbase, but it’s a refreshing change of pace. Things will be clearer once their new album drops, but as things stand, they seem the real deal.

Review by Conor Cosgrave

 

Lucy Ivan

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