Adebisi Shank at Whelan’s, Dublin, 26th September 2014
This is the last Irish show of a band called Adebisi Shank. Although an album launch and a farewell show might seem like odd bedfellows, whether by design or default, this is how it came to pass that in a Whelan’s double-header we bade a fond farewell to one of the most unique and exciting alternative acts in the Irish music scene in recent years as they departed the scene and simultaneously launched their third and final album ‘This Is the Third Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank’.
The band emerge to the sound of Elton John’s “Circle of Life”, a tongue in cheek nod to the band’s demise and, perhaps, rebirth in other forms, and immediately launch into International Dreambeat with everything they’ve got. It’s a great opening and a not-quite-capacity Whelan’s knows from the start it’s going to be a show to remember. It’s followed by Big Unit, one of the best songs from’ …the Third Album…’, and Vinny McCreith’s air-punching, ear-cupping, handclapping enthusiasm has the crowd bouncing.
It takes all the way until their third song, Masa, before the crowd-surfing starts, and it pretty much continues for the rest of the night. We’re a few more songs in before Vinny addresses the crowd: “This is a very special night for us”, he says simply, before they shatter the emotion with You Me, the opener from their first album.
The only moment where they risk losing the crowd is with the slightly videogame-ish Thundertruth, but otherwise it’s raw power and emotion all the way home. Lar Kaye, one of the foremost exponents of “future-guitar” makes his instrument squawk, groan and screech and generally makes enough racket for an orchestra of guitarists. They are an incredibly tight group – even with all the pre-recorded parts and loops there’s not a note out of sync the entire night.
It’s a highly-charged affair, with emotions understandably running high, and an up-for-it crowd hanging on every crunch and arpeggiated synth-line of the battery of songs launched from the stage. World In Harmony draws the “woah-ohs” of the fans and Genki Skank threatens to send them through the roof. “Our songs aren’t usually about anything”, Vinny says by way of introduction to Voodoo Vision, “but this one’s about when you think the world’s gonna end cos something is over, but it’s just the beginning of something else.” This gives rise to a tidal wave of crowd-surfers, at one point dangerously close to outnumbering the people left on the ground.
After the band re-emerge for the encore, Vinnie addresses his bandmates: “Mick, you’re my favourite drummer in the world. Lar, you’re a musical genius. A musical genius! As for me I consider myself the luckiest guy in the world because I get to be in my favourite band in the world.” It’s a touching sentiment and a genuinely moving moment. They finish with Jumpcuts and an extended version of Mini Rockers. Appropriately, album-closer (trio always) plays as the band take their final Irish bow (they still have some U.S. dates) and pose for the obligatory selfie. They leave a large hole in the Irish musical landscape in terms of their creativity and sheer upbeat energy and they will be sorely missed.