Walk The Moon At Olympia Theatre – Review
Walk the Moon are a four piece indie/pop/dance-rock band from Cincinnati best known for their song ‘Shut Up and Dance’, which took the Irish charts by storm last summer – but for those in the know they have been bringing their unique brand of pumped-up, almost 80s-like pop-rock to our ears since ‘Anna Sun’ started getting some airplay back in 2010. They played Dublin’s Olympia Theatre for the first time on Thursday 18 February.
When the lights dimmed for Walk the Moon’s entrance, the previously half empty venue had filled to the brim. The pit was a sea of partially-painted, visibly excited faces. The well-known opening strains of ‘Circle of life’ from The Lion King played as the Ohio four piece took to the stage already dancing! They didn’t greet the audience just yet, but rather cut abruptly into Lion King with a raging intro the segued straight into ‘Jenny’ from their self-title 2012 album Walk the Moon. Lead singer Nicholas Petricca had the fans screaming as he swung his skinny-jeaned hips in time to the music and the whole band exuded an infectious energy that took the crowd by storm before they’d even made it through the first chorus and by the end of the song, even the seated crowd were up and dancing and belting the lyrics.
Following a dramatic blackout and overwhelming shrieks from the audience, the boys got the crowd clapping along as the intro built up to the first chorus of the more recent Sidekick (from their 2014 album Talking is Hard). Another great dancey song that kept the energy up as the band bounced around the stage – they didn’t stop smiling throughout the whole concert and neither did the audience!
Dreamy, almost space-agey strains and moody blue lighting slowly developed into the opening lyrics of ‘Avalanche’, a little slower on the verses than the previous two songs but with stunning high notes throughout that were consistently perfect. Lights flashed over the audience punctuating the chorus on every ‘stops’.
They took their time starting the next song, an almost ominous instrumental build as they introduced their next tune as being ‘about diversity’ before launching into the distinctive ‘Oh oh ohs’ of ‘Different Colours’ and it all kicked off with a soar of sound and rainbow lights streaming across the stage. A really happy, unifying vibe took over the venue as everyone sang and danced and waved their hands back and forth in time and the band stuck to their policy that every instrumental interlude is a dance opportunity! Definitely one of the standout songs of the night.
Without pause, they ran straight into another of their best known songs from the Walk the Moon album – ‘Tightrope’. The stage lights raced and the audience sang along from start to finish at the top of their lungs. The chorus was particularly powerful with the band pounding the stage with their feet and the audience clapping along to the ‘Woah-oh-oh’s. Drummer Sean Waughaman absolutely murdered this song with an unbelievable energy!
They followed this with the stunning harmonies and epic 80s vibe of ‘Down in the Dumps’ letting the crowd sing the chorus for them. They then took a musical turn as they dove into the screaming guitar solo opening of ‘Spend your $$$’ which finished in a head-banging ear-splitting crashing road of sound that left the whole venue ringing – but in a good way.
‘Up 2 U’ opened with disco-y keyboards that escalated into a bow-out instrumental with flashing strobes. The boys took to the platforms at the front of the stage and got the dancing going as they played their newest song ‘Work This Body’ to rapturous screaming from the audience. A definite sing-along tune that had the whole audience on their feet and dancing, clapping and stamping along with the band.
They chilled out the atmosphere as Petricca played an almost romantic keyboard solo and the band talked about how crowds like this are what make them feel at home when they’re lonely during a long tour. This led into the distinctive poppy keyboard intro to ‘Portugal’ whose slightly more pared back instrumental line gave us a good chance to really enjoy the lyrics. Following a groovy synth intro came ‘Aquaman’, which saw the audience waving their arms like seaweed in the ocean, a movement further advanced by the blue and green lights that swathed the audience.
Petricca then took a moment to ask us how to say thank-you in Gaelic and, after some anarchic yelling in answer, singled out an audience member and managed a reasonable pronunciation of Go raibh míle maith agaibh!
A trippy light show kicked off ‘Lisa Baby‘ which got the audience energy right back up – and the band’s too as they ran around the stage enjoying the energy of the crowd.
Taking their first real opportunity to talk between songs, Petricca welcomed all Walk the Moon first timers to the family and told us we were all strangers no longer, asking everyone in the audience to Hi-5 someone they didn’t know before tonight. He then got everyone in the audience to visualise bottling up all they negative emotions together, and, as the music built ominously, push them up and out through our fingertips and release them. This left the whole venue feeling somewhat unified, like a family. Then they started the distinctive arm motion for ‘I Can Lift A Car’ and the audience brought the relaxed, happy post-visualisation energy into the song. Petricca even jumped down into the photographers’ area and climbed on top of the rail divide, the audience helding him up as he sang the chorus while tightrope walking the rail – an amazing moment for those lucky enough to be in the front of the pit. This song was a definite high point of the night.
Keeping the crowd happy, they went straight from one crowd-pleaser to another – playing the long awaited ‘Shutup and Dance’ as they wielded an Irish flag, the band’s dancing increasing in energy and the crowd absolutely loving it. The song finished to deafening screams which turned quickly into an enthusiastic demand for ‘one more tune’ as the band left the stage.
The boys didn’t leave the crowd waiting long, retaking the stage with bassist Kevin wearing the Irish flag as a cape. Petricca asks politely: ‘Are you interested in hearing some more music?’
They finished their set with a trio of songs, opening with the upbeat fun of ‘Shiver’ before the demands for ‘Anna Sun’ began – but they held us off with the promise to play it but first they played a lovely tribute to the incredible talent that was David Bowie with a cover of ‘Just Dance’ which once again completely unified the crowd, everyone singing along in a testament to Bowie’s memory.
Soft, sunrise lighting bathed the stage as the band said their thankyous and goodbyes over the opening strains of the much-anticipated ‘Anna Sun‘ which was the perfect end to the set and a perfect party atmosphere to end the night, finishing with Petricca hammering the keyboard til it nearly fell off its stand and the others throwing plectrums, drumsticks and even bottles of water and paper towels into the crowd.
Walk the Moon are not just a group of talented musicians, but they are also the kind of band you want to hang out with, the kind of band you’d party with! Many people only know Walk the Moon for their more upbeat dance numbers but their set showed a diversity of rock variations for all kinds of fans, all with the kind of musical hooks and sing along choruses you just want to hear more of. They created a great atmosphere that sent their fans home not just exhilarated but genuinely happy. A great concert from a group we’ll hopefully get more visits from in the future!
Review by Kat Clinch