The Academic at The Workman’s Club – Review & Photos
When it comes to soft spots for bands, they probably don’t come any bigger than mine for The Academic, ours is a long-standing musical affair. Having seen them perform a few times, briefly perhaps, I had always enjoyed their style, admired their songwriting abilities, and simply the fact that they were from Mullingar. Yet, when I was lucky enough to attend Electric Picnic last year, I saw them perform to an immense crowd and knew that they’d be great. ‘Bear Claws’ had been the track that everyone had scrambled into the tent to listen to, and I remember the distinct elbowing and bustling to get to the front of the stage to watch this four-piece do what they do so well. Their sold-out show in Workman’s was no different.
Fresh off the road from their nationwide tour, the boys came back to the capital to drive home the reoccurring discussion that they’re going to be the next big thing. The Workman’s was a mass of people crammed into a much too small space, not nearly ample enough to hold all the fans that had wanted to be there. Speaking to a few supporters, it was obvious that the boys have built quite the fan base for themselves with old and new followers alike present at this show. The Academic are pretty fresh faced to say the least, and yet, as they perform, there’s a certain confidence to their show – a tangible sense of self-assurance. Lead vocalist and guitarist Craig Fitzgerald is everything you want in a frontman, his youth is never an issue, he’s well versed in what’s required of a front man, and he smiles into the stage with quite confidence as he performs to rapturous cheers from the crowd. You can feel the delight of many people here, not just because they are seeing their favourite band live but because one can practically feel just how hard these boys are working on stage (and clearly off it) to create infectious blend of indie rock/pop. This young foursome have an amazing talent at creating songs that just make people want to sing and dance.
It’s a proud moment to be able to watch a band grow like the Academic has, to sell-out a show in the capital, and as the girl next to me screams, ‘I love you guys!’, I strongly believe many more people will be saying it in the future. The boys get well together as a band, you can sense it as you watch them, and see the half-smiles and subtle glances they share with each other. But the subtleties are quickly replaced with Cheshire Cat-esque grins when the crowd goes particularly wild for their performance of ‘Bear Claws’, a track that earmarked them as something big late last year. Nearly concussed by one man waving his arms so frantically to the beat of the track, I realise that their entire stage presence has dramatically evolved on since I watched them perform last year. They maintain the frantic element of their playing, a certain eagerness to keep fans happy (which reminds us why they’ve been chosen to support Kodaline this summer), but there’s something simultaneously different to it. As they perform ‘Forrest’, another belting track of theirs, it becomes pretty apparent that the boys have worked on creating a more polished sound, tiny intricacies have been perfected to such a degree that the boys play as if they’re as seasoned as U2.
If I thought I was nearly concussed during ‘Bear Claws’, it was nothing in comparison to when the band play ‘Different’. I was putting my life on the line even being there. The crowd just became a pit of waving arms, enthusiastic cheer, and thrilled expressions. One only has to check the band’s Facebook to see how much acclaim this track has been getting, and its ultimately favourite track of the night, as the performance transforms into a fan sing-along, not that the boys seem in any way unhappy about this; I think I even catch lead guitarist, Matt Murtagh, proudly surveying the crowd as they add their own flavour to the track. It’s this track that marks their unstoppable success, and is, undeniably, the track of the night.
With an inherent charm that shines through, 2015 looks set to be a busy year for the midlands based outfit. The Academic remind us what good Irish music sounds like, they’ve got this wonderful infusion of charisma and sheer musical talent that makes them a delight to listen to, and frankly, it makes me incredibly proud that it’s this kind of music that is being produced in Ireland. I’m a big believer in the incredible talents Irish bands have and the Academic’s performance definitely showed that tonight. As well as for myself and every other fan packed into the Workman’s, it was clear from the faces of the band that this gig not only marked the end of their impressive country-wide tour but the start of bigger and better things for them. I said it at Electric Picnic when I saw them perform ‘Bear Claws’ and I’m saying it again now, these boys are going to be big.