The Dandy Warhols at The Academy – Review
Portland alt-rockers The Dandy Warhols mark a long awaited return to Ireland with performances at Indiependence festival and now a much awaited headline show in The Academy. With nine studio albums to their name, the band have explored psychedelia, garage, power pop and more recently, a stripped back sound via 2012’s This Machine. With such a varied and powerful back catalogue, the Warhols set high standards for their live performance.
Arriving on stage in a haze of feedback and seemingly endless amounts of dry ice, the band explode into ‘Mohammed’ from 2001’s acclaimed Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia. The wall of sound created by Peter Holmstrom’s guitar is otherworldly, and contrasts beautifully with the acoustic timbre produced by the rest of the band. Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s vocals sound raw and are heavily doused in reverb and delay, further adding to the psychedelic tone established. ‘Crack Cocaine Rager’ continues the tripped out vibes with more distorted vocals and tambourine heavy riffage, and the instantly recognisable indie anthem ‘Get Off’ has the crowd let loose in a cheer of ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’ during the infectious chorus.
Staying pretty much silent in between songs, the Warhols crack on with golden oldies ‘The Last High’ and ‘I Love You’, the latter sounding tremendously better than the album version via the screaming guitars and the droning vocals. This is a peculiar thing about the band; they somehow make all those seemingly unnecessarily long intros and noise sections on the albums sound quintessential live. A large portion of the gig is just that, but the tunes by no means suffer from it. The now tranced audience are quickly woken up by ‘We Used To Be Friends’ from 2003’s Welcome To The Monkey House. The roughed up vocals of Taylor-Taylor are supported by the throngs of adoring fans, and the added stage banter between band members buzz the audience to the max.
Keeping the majority of the set from Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, ‘Solid’ has classic riffs pouring out of every section, and the gritty ‘Horse Pills’ sounds like a dance floor classic performed by a noisy rock band. At this point, The Academy is shaking from the amount of unadulterated guitar pop. Set highlight thus far is found in a charming solo version of ‘Everyday Should Be A Holiday’, from Taylor-Taylor, which genuinely packs more of a punch stripped back than with a band. With the crowd eating out of his hand by now, the chorus is sung passionately back to him. His voice is exposed for the raw, gritty entity it has now become, but it works oh so well.
The penultimate moment of the set arrives with the feel good anthem ‘Bohemian Like You’, which is every bit as huge sounding as you could hope. The explosive main riff is met with cries of pure joy from just about everyone in the room. For three glorious minutes, the Dandy Warhols are the best band in the world. If ever there was a sound to represent the early naughties indie boom, this would be it. Carrying on for two more songs with an extended and orchestral sounding rendition of ‘Godless’, the band finish with a flourish via ‘Boys Better’ from 1997’s The Dandy Warhols Come Down. The piercing synthesisers and impressive vocal harmonies ride atop ferocious guitar riffs akimbo, making this last hurrah a memorable one.
Bands like this can often get lumped in to the nostalgia factor breed of bands that are cashing in on their fifteen minutes of fame, but at The Academy they have blown us away with their high gain guitar music and totally original sense of melody. Not only that, but they have proved to be totally unique and varied from every other guitar band out there. The Dandy Warhols’s performance can be described as nothing other than a sheer triumph.
Review by Finn O’Reilly