The Witch Trials at Sweeney’s – Review
A colourful, psychedelic backdrop greets the revellers as they close the gap between themselves and the stage. A predominantly young fan base fills the room and makes their excitement known, the atmosphere is electric. Michael Tetlow (bass) and Paul Campbell (drums) are fully set up and keen to play, giving the crowd a brief taste of what’s to come with some impromptu jamming together.
The Witch Trials began their set with some sparse sounds from their instruments and beautiful vocal harmonies. They make no effort to announce their arrival, but instead, let their music do the talking. Judging by the sudden hush that fell over the crowd, there was no announcement needed. Fresh from the experience of their development deal with Searchlight Productions in March, they exude a professional, confident attitude.
A strong relationship between bass and drums always makes for a tight performance, but in the case of this progressive quartet, that relationship is completely fundamental. Not only do Michael and Paul provide a steady foundation for the psychedelic beast that is The Witch Trials, but they tastefully exploit every nook of their percussive corner, demonstrating their technical ability without stepping outside their instrumental role.
Andy Mullan adds his saxophone skills to the mix, demonstrating an adept ability and keen ear for melodies. His playing was beautifully complemented and intertwined with that of guitarist/vocalist Daniel McIntyre. At some points, the two were one, creating waves of eerie, ethereal melodies. It would be remiss of me not to note Daniel’s expertise of guitar effects, adding something new to every song and definitively rounding out the band’s psychedelic sound.
Each song demonstrated a different facet of the band’s ability, whether it be the seamless jump through different styles in ‘Heavy Petting’, the dance inducing rhythm presented in ‘Haunted Houses’, or the abrupt end in ‘Lights Off’, allowing for a few moments of stunned silence before an eruption of cheers from the crowd. A particular highlight arrived at the end of ‘Darkness’: the lights dimmed and the sound of each instrument gradually faded, leaving a simple but beautiful twin vocal melody to usher in the close. An excellent dynamic, created by professional performers.
Daniel takes a moment to thank everyone that had helped to put the show together, reminding the audience that the band is but a fraction of the process. The band close on their newly released single, ‘Wonderland’, which seems to herald the love child of Jamiroquai and Primus. However, the crowd is still baying for more, and the lads oblige with one last tune before leaving us, ‘Virginia’.
The Witch Trials put on a truly wonderful performance, demonstrating advanced technical ability, without each performer scrabbling to step over one another, which can often be the case with young musicians. The visuals on the night created a warm atmosphere, but technical difficulties with a projector left me wondering if the crowd was left without a dimension of the entire show. The lack of low end frequencies from the front of house also seemed to hinder the overall impact, which left me yearning to see this quartet in a more suitable setting, with the subs shaking the foundations. The entire gig was an emotional roller coaster. Waves of manic and mellow, commanded by 60’s guitar sounds, funky rhythms wild saxophone sounds.
The Witch Trials have been booked for Knockanstockan and YouBloom this summer, be sure to pay them a visit. If you’re lucky, they just might play their rendition of ‘Norwegian Wood’ by The Beatles – a real treat.
Review by Darragh Ryan
Photo by Aoife Herrity