Real Estate at Whelan’s – Review
Early on in their set, Real Estate commented on the fact that they haven’t graced these shores in quite some time. The last venue they played here was Crawdaddy. While that venue is much missed, it wasn’t the biggest and it certainly couldn’t have contained the huge crowd that was wedged in to see them perform on Tuesday night. With the main room packed and the upstairs balcony three and four people deep at some points, it’s fair to say that Real Estate are developing a sizeable Irish fanbase. Their brand of jangly, oscillating guitar pop is certainly the perfect antidote to a nation whose default weather setting is overcast and while this gig started off well, the lack of variety in the band’s sound became a bit of an issue as the night wore on.
They kicked things off in fine style with the instrumental ‘April’s Song’ followed by ‘Crime’ from their recent album ‘Atlas’ and had the crowd gently swaying from the off. ‘Past Lives’ was also an early highlight but by the halfway point in the set a noticeable amount of people were checking their phones and chatting among themselves rather than giving the band their full attention.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the band’s playing. They are all accomplished musicians and Matt Mondanile’s spangly guitar melodies particularly stand out all night although at times they completely dominate the sound, drowning out the other instruments. In spite of this, it’s still a pleasure to watch such a fine guitarist in action.
There were some moments when the band changed things up a bit during the night. ‘It’s Real’ received a great reaction as the crowd gleefully joined in with the “whoa oh oh oh whoa” refrain while ‘Horizon’ had a slightly different vibe than much that went before and helped to liven up a set that at times became monotonous.
To give them credit, the encore was excellent. ‘Suburban Beverage’ is a fine song that belatedly gave Matt Kallman the chance to shine with some fine Hammond style keyboard licks while ‘Talking Backwards’ is one of the finest song that the band has ever released and received a suitably jubilant reaction here.
In the end they did a fine job and sent the crowd home happy. No doubt many of those punters will be in the Academy when Real Estate return to Dublin in October but there will surely be some who will have left with nagging doubts that this night could have been something more than just a good band running through a decent set of songs. They have the potential to be great if they inject a bit more variety into their live arrangements. Perhaps a summer of touring will fine tune things and the Academy gig will prove to be the seminal moment that those attending this show were hoping for.