The Choir Invisible at Whelan’s – Review
The Choir Invisible at Whelan’s – July 12th
The Choir Invisible is an interesting four-piece pop band from Dublin. When I say interesting, I’m speaking about the style of their music, it’s indecisive – trying to merge indie and pop whilst simultaneously dusting it with a sort of unusual dusting of old-school French pop. After touring the Irish circuit for the last year, receiving some subtle nods from music critics for their works, they have even garnered themselves an accolade from a French website, as you do. They themselves say that they sing about “escape and fantasy, about ticking and about fast drives”- again, as I said, it’s an interesting way to describe your sound. Nonetheless, it seems to work for them, admittedly, I am dubious of these sort of descriptions; I always find it better to go and watch live performances and see how songs about “clueless drivers” translate into music.
I have to give them credit; the support act they chose absolutely blew me away. Connor Kelly just oozed dark and satiric charm that befitted the upstairs of Whelan’s. His poetics and songs struck a modernist note, the rise and fall of his pitch demonstrated that this is not only a musician; he’s a poet and a dramatist. His profound approach to issues of sexuality in Ireland was both comedic and effective; he managed to hit the twin notes of engaging eh audience with current topics whilst providing comic relief. He was really a joy to watch and his stage presence was a palpable burning of desire to express himself through his art.
There was rapturous cheer when The Choir Invisible approached their set, one decorated with red roses, which reflected their interesting style of music. Their suit ensemble only enhanced this sense of distinctive individuality, as they burst into their first number “Hundreds and Thousands”; they bounded through their set with an overwhelming sense of zeal. After a few rushed words they burst into their second number, “Make-Up Tips”, it was clear that they had concerned themselves with their music rather than a precise stage presence, which demonstrated their love of the live performance. “A French Kiss” has a sort of Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash opening to it, the vocals reflect a sense of uncertainty and a desire to progress, it was a mellow track but with a good hint of snare drum to it, that just keeps musical appetites whet. It’s the mellowed, reduced manner that just tantalises the ear of the listeners for songs like “Your Boyfriend”, again there’s a steady rhythm to a song that deals with a sort of bitter, romantic loss – the idea of trying to replace one you’ve lost with the nearest replica. Despite its bluesy quality, it is terrifically engaging and is distinctly relatable. I can’t quite place where I’ve heard the style of their song “Richard and Elizabeth” before, it sounds familiar and attractive; one can’t help but tap their foot along to the brimming confidence to the lyrics.
As well as their own songs, The Choir Invisible weren’t afraid to do covers. I feel that bands often avoid them for fear of not being able to make the tracks their own but the group covered Frankie Valli’s “The Night” quite wonderfully. The brilliance of the cover came down to the fact that they made it their own by manipulating their song to make it their own, the lyrics were Frankie’s but the style was theirs. Furthermore, their cover of the Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday” was quite the act; once again, they took a distinctive track and put their own spin on it. One cannot help but applaud their prowess at taking on these tracks. The unpolished quality of their vocals is what aids to their musical charm
Of course, what everyone was waiting for was the final track of the night. “Changing my Spots” has this rugged warmth to its beat. The petulant hum of the drum perfectly captures the lyrics, there’s a sense of unwilling metamorphous to the track. I think the gentle murmur of the guitar beautifully accompanied the lyric “I try to change my spots but instead they fade.” They’re a band that obviously speaks from a place of experience and it’s clear and works well, hopefully each successive single release after “Changing my Spots” will be as successful as this one.
Review by Elaine McDonald