Picture This At The Olympia Theatre – Review & Photos
‘Overnight success’ is a term regularly thrown around in the music industry, mostly applied to acts who seem to have sprung from nowhere to headlining and selling out prominent venues in a short space of time. On the outside, Athy’s Picture This appear to fit this description perfectly. In just over one calendar year, the duo have gone from selling out their debut Dublin headliner (before upgrading the venue only for it to sell out again) to packing every tent they played over summer festival season, while bagging a huge major label record deal in the process. The pair’s ascent is the sharpest upward upward trajectory Irish music has seen since Hozier’s breakthrough in late 2013. However, there’s more than meets the eye to this fairytale. Frontman Ryan Hennessy had previously fronted the solid if unspectacular indie outfit Bohemian while drummer Jimmy Rainsford has long been involved in session work as well as moonlighting as tour drummer for singer-songwriter Ryan Sheridan. Both members of Picture This put in countless hours of hard graft away from the spotlight before forming their musical partnership and exploding to prominence with the viral success of debut single ‘Take My Hand’.
Tonight is the first of three sold-out shows in the famous Dame St. Theatre, an astonishing feat. given the band had released just two singles and had only been playing together for under a year when tickets initially went on sale. Having previously caught the band in a pub-like setting at their debut New York gig earlier this summer, a show which seemed to contain as many eager record company A&R men as it did fans, tonight’s atmosphere couldn’t be more different as they are greeted with boyband levels of hysteria when they take to the stage with the opening acoustic arpeggios of ‘Saviour’, one of the strongest moments in their repertoire and a surefire future single. EP track ‘I Don’t Know Why’ gets an early outing to keep the energy up, before the band tell fans how much they’ve been looking forward to these landmark shows.
Notably, tonight is evidence of the current generation music fan’s listening habits, songs not yet released or in some cases, yet to be recorded, inspire mass singalongs solely picked up off YouTube live performances. With their lone EP release containing 5 tracks, plenty of material not included on that release are greeted with the kind of screams usually reserved for hit singles. It’s easy to see why the band have captured the imagination of Irish audiences, chief songwriter Ryan Hennessy possesses the raw melodic song-craft traits of a young Noel Gallagher (an obvious influence judging by the pre-show playlist containing several Oasis songs), just as you think you’ve heard a song’s big hook, another even bigger one comes along, marking him out as one of the industry’s most promising up and coming pop songwriters.
If there were fears that the swath of new material could potentially flatten the atmosphere, any doubts are assuaged by the quality of the new songs on show tonight. ‘Addicted To You’ has a great chorus line which sticks in the memory after one listen, while the uptempo ‘Everything I Need’ rocks like Hot Fuss-era The Killers. Lyrically, the band’s tales of teenage love and lust may strike a chord with a predominantly young audience, but melodically they have a far broader universal appeal. Almost every song performed tonight sounds like a hit single in-waiting so radio stations should be advised to be making room on their future playlists. For all the stadium qualities of the uptempo pop songs, Picture This are capable of stripping their sound right down with striking effect. New song ‘Jane’ is notably sparse when placed alongside the rest of tonight’s material, and the singer’s note-perfect chorus falsetto is incredibly moving, while the largely acoustic ‘Pretend’ has the same jaunty singalong quality as Oasis’ ‘Half The World Away’. Credit must also go to the impressive production values, with three video screens and confetti cannons helping create a mini-stadium show in the intimate theatre setting.
Recent single ‘Let’s Be Young’ inspires en masse singalongs as the band elect to keep the hits for the latter part the set. While set closer ‘Take My Hand’ may be recognised as their signature song, and the one that broke the band nationwide, it’s the terrific ‘You & I’ that steals the show tonight, a pop-rock masterclass which yearns for escape from small town life, the explosions of confetti cannons towards the end help create the finest moment of the set. Tonight Picture This made moving up to mid-sized venues look easy, and it seems it won’t be long before we see them make the next step to the 3Arena at the other side of town. The next challenge is recreating this level of success and fan hysteria in the U.K and U.S markets, but right now on the evidence of tonight’s stellar show, they look simply unstoppable.