Delorentos and Pillow Queens at The Irish Cultural Centre, London, 16 March 2018
St. Paddy’s Eve at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith, The Irish Jam, an Irish-hosted h0w on local radio station Wandsworth Radio, presented us with the unique opportunity to witness both new and established talent coming from Ireland. Mighty headliners Delorentos were supported by electrifying TAYNE, one-man band magic by Video Blue and effortless indie punk by Pillow Queens.
Pillow Queens’ set was a particularly special one, as it coincided with the release of their second EP ‘State Of The State’. Opening with Cuckoo, one of the four catchy numbers comprising the new EP, the all-girl band from Dublin impressed with evident chemistry on stage and the cool confidence of a much older and established band.
Continuing with Olive, a song from their previous EP ‘Calm Girls’, they set the mood off with the false security of nervous lyrics “I feel / I feel fine”. The anxiety of being female and dealing with the world was evident immediately through their set, matching it with supreme guitar riffs and colourful melodies. Ragin’, the fourth and final song from ‘State Of The State’, made that clear as Sarah Corcoran and Pamela Connolly regularly swap singing, bass and guitar duties, showing off a new side of the band.
The set moved on to absolute highlights Favourite and Puppets, sounding grand and evidently miles ahead of previous material. Puppets shines with the everlasting chorus of terrific songwriting and anxious lyrics “Push me, pull my strings / I’m not a puppet but I can’t feel my wings”. We also had the chance to be treated to a brand new song called Gay Girls, promising great things about the future. Closing with Rats, earlier explosive single from ‘Calm Girls’, Pillow Queens left us wondering how four girls so uniquely talented have had the luck of meeting each other. It’s clear that greatness lies ahead for them.
Delorentos took to the stage last with all the confidence of Wembley headliners and a sound clearly too big for the intimate venue in the Irish Cultural Centre. Starting with Forget The Numbers, they quickly showed how well they own the stage. Taken from their most-recent album ‘Night Becomes Light’, it’s perhaps one of the most perfect songs to begin a set with, with its snappy melody and contagious electro beats, turning the atmosphere into an instant party.
The band continued with Show Me Love and Fits (Too Drunk To Drive), reminding us of the brilliance of their 2014 release. Their Choice-Prize-winning album ‘Little Sparks’ was also heavily represented in their set, with Petardu and its bittersweet lyrics being a high point of the night: “I knew that someday we would break each other’s hearts, hearts”.
One of the most exciting moments from the set was hearing brand new song In Darkness We Feel Our Way, a preview of the recently announced upcoming album ‘True Surrender’. It features ominous voice sampling as part of the haunting intro, developing into a beautiful tale about finding hope and starting again. Its darkness and mysterious distant vocals and guitars remind us of the Maccabees, a band we will probably never see again but whose spirit might be leaving an imprint in the upcoming Delorentos record. In Darkness was a memorable moment in the night and raised our expectations for what’s to come.
Home Again followed, along with the band confessing it’s simply about being a grown up, dealing with responsibility, facing the world as it is. Starting gently with simple guitar, light piano chords and fragile vocals, it develops into an anthem about the impatience and unbearable need for change. A seemingly innocent song, it touches upon the pain and darkness we all feel sometimes through the everyday pointlessness of our lives, holding on to any brief ray of light: “And just for one second, the light caught in your eye / And it felt like heaven”.
Everybody Else Gets Wet, a song about being scared of life in a world where courage is overrated, didn’t take long to raise the spirits. Featuring the winning combination of an upbeat dancing highlight and gloomy lyrics infused with self-irony, it also proved that the band is a master mind puppeteer, dictating the mood expertly. With the addition of addictive beats and superb melody, it was the track that stuck in our brains long after gig had finished.
Waiting and Eustace Street from debut album ‘In Love With Detail’ provided variety in the setlist, reminiscing about the past. Dublin Love Song left its mark with its big chorus and perfectly matching lyrics about insecurity and being lost in a big city: “She can’t take a compliment / She can’t take a compliment home”. Sanctuary exposed the band’s ability to intertwine multiple guitars in a web of musical greatness, building up for the final strike. Penultimate song Did We Ever Really Try laid the foundation perfectly for the best closing song they could have chosen: S.E.C.R.E.T. Its iconic guitar intro, sounding more like electronic arpeggios than guitar, along with the ultimate singalong chorus, didn’t spare anyone’s voice in the room. A truly perfect end.