Review: Japandroids at The Workman’s ClubTweet
Japandroids at The Workman’s Club on August 16th 2012
It’s been three years since Vancouver duo Japandroids last played Dublin, a Whelan’s gig which by their own admission wasn’t exactly sold out. The indefatigable pair have been touring relentlessly since the release of their début ‘Post Nothing’, honing their live show into a tight crackling bundle of energy. This time around it’s the Workman’s Club’s turn to contain the excitement.
The support slot is ably filled by Dublin four-piece Celibacy Club, doing a nice line in acceleration/deceleration. A sample of Allan Sherman’s Hello Mother Hello Father floats up at one point, banished then as the band gear up. The three upstanding members drift in and out of each other’s way onstage in a powerful and slow building set of post-rockin’ and hard-rockin’ while the drummer eschews a hi-hat – just like Moonie. He also shares vocal duties with the howling frontman in this gapless set, the songs flowing from one to the next connected by sample and guitar noise. Any band that brings to mind The Fucking Champs while sporting a Johnny Ramone haircut is okay with us.
“We’re gonna play for a long time and it’s gonna be awesome!” announces Japandroids singer, guitarist and all round hyperactive showman Brian King before the band begin with The Boys Are Leaving Town – “That was just a warm-up song!” New ‘Celebration Rock’ numbers Adrenaline Nightshift and Continuous Thunder follow, and yes, they are adrenalin-fuelled and thunderous. So much so in fact that drummer David Prowse breaks his snare drum and disappears into the wings to retrieve a spare. King worries that his banter is running dry, telling us Prowse will only be a minute. As sure as thunder follows adrenalin, the inevitable “That’s what she said!” is immediately attached, just one instance of the jokey and good-humoured interactions between band and crowd.
Snare sorted, we’re back and away down Fire’s Highway with the crowd warmed up and in full voice as the band flit between old songs and new. They slot together side by side effortlessly, partly because they are tight, rocking fist pumping anthems, partly because they all sound pretty much the same. Prowse takes over lead vocal duties for the next one, and the band’s simple but highly effective light show adds another dimension to the gig. The strobes and spots catch them in one pose and sear the snapshot on the retina, before they are suddenly transposed into another rock flail.
Lead track from the new record Nights Of Wine And Roses follows and with its screamable chorus it’s an easy one to participate in. King tells us so. After a jubilant Wet Hair they tease the crowd with the first few bars of Back In Black – the kind of fuck-acting you can get away with when you have the crowd on your side – before song-proper Evil’s Sway with its take-it-away drum break.
Ever the sound heads, they play new single The House That Heaven Built for the new fans that want to get home to their loved ones. It really kicks off for this one; the tune is roared back and the crowd-surfers float to their heart’s content. One guy manages to torpedo himself seven people deep into the crowd, but his trajectory is skewed so he sinks without trace. Crazy/Forever follows as a mini-moshpit opens up and King takes the well-earned opportunity to sit on the bassdrum.
It’s hotting up in the venue, and as the sweat drips from the ceiling they give folk the opportunity to “go for a pint or a piss” while they play their slow song. The room darkens completely for Young Hearts Spark Fire before the strobe flashes and King knocks over the mic stand. The drums keep it going though, and then we’re all in it. A swig of Jameson for the singer and it’s time for the final number – because “encores are for pretentious pricks.”
“Let’s rip apart this whole fucking room!” shouts King before the finale – a cover who’s name I didn’t catch, somewhere between Liam Lynch and Dead Kennedy’s – standing on the bass drum for one final rock-out. It’s a fine end to a gig in which Japandroids cemented old alliances and won over new with their raucous stage show and affable interaction. Was it as awesome as King claimed it would be? Fuckin’ A.
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Photos: Yan Bourke