The Beards at Whelan’s – Review

The Beards - Whelans

The Beards - Whelans - Review, PhotosThe Beards at Whelan’s – February 20th

Australian novelty rock act, The Beards, played their first ever gig in the Republic on Thursday in Whelan’s, following a show in Belfast the night before. The Beards are a band with quite a simple schtick – four men, well-endowed with beards, who play music centered on the theme of beardedness. The release of their latest album, “Having a Beard Is the New Not Having a Beard”, their best yet, in 2012, has pushed them into the public eye, and they attracted a sizeable crowd to Whelans’ downstairs.

See also: Photos of The Beards at Whelan’s

The band mostly play a classic rock-inspired form of music, at times crossing into other genres, but always retaining an infectious chorus. They open with a huge track straight out of the AC/DC riff handbook, “I Like Beards”, followed by “No Beard, No Good”, featuring some gorgeous sax solos from frontman Johann Beardraven. But it’s not until the anthemic “This Beard Stays” that the crowd find their voice.

The Beards - Whelans - Review, PhotosAside from the music, needless to say, the band’s beards are top notch. Drummer John Beardman Jr opts for the lengthy Amon Amarth-esque full beard in (natural) blonde, while  McStubblington’s effort is a tighter brunette Old Dutch. Beardraven also ops for the full beard, black with classy flecks of grey, reminiscent of LeChuck, and bassist Nathaniel Beard’s chin curtain and mustache combo completes their full beard compliment.

As the gig goes on, my initial disappointment at the lack of amusing synonyms for their theme of choice disappears, as the laconic nature of the show winds up being far more hilarious, typified by the celebratory “Beards!” which Beardraven exclaims on the last stab of the rolls at the end of most of their songs, and his announcement before each tune, “This next one is about beards.” The crowd sings along with him at every opportunity, but give the greatest reception of the night to their most well-known tracks, “If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard, You’ve Got Two Mums” and “You Should Consider Having Sex with a Bearded Man”.

The Beards certainly manage to make us laugh during their songs, but, unlike most novelty and comedy musical acts, the songs are actually good, worth listening to far beyond the point at which the jokes have grown old.  That’s what defines a great comedy band, and pushes Tenacious D, Flight of the Conchords and The Beards to heights that Bo Burnham and Stephen Lynch cannot attain. Their musical abilities are not to be disregarded, with Nathaniel Beard showing off some gorgeous basslines, and wicked drumming from Beardman Jr, not to mention the vocal, keytar and saxophone work from Beardraven.

The Beards - Whelans - Review, PhotosThe three albums they have released so far – a fourth on the way in April or May – are enjoyable, but the live setting suits this act down to the ground. Listening to songs about beards is one thing, but it’s a far more hilarious spectacle hearing songs about beards while you watch four grown men comb one another’s facial hair and present their beards to the crowd for fondling. The music was great, as was the show, but I imagine I’m not alone among the beardless men who attended that show in thinking long and hard about when my next shave will be, and hope it’s not for a while.

Review by Conor Cosgrave

See also: Photos of The Beards at Whelan’s


Lucy Ivan

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