Avant Gardaí at The Workman’s Club, Dublin, on January 18th 2018
Some of the greatest bands ever have the worst names – The Beatles, Arctic Monkeys, The The for Jaysus’ sake. There’s absolutely no correlation between these bands’ names and their music, but after a certain amount of success nobody questions it. Avant Gardaí buck this trend in no uncertain terms. If nothing else the name hints at the satirical, absurdist humour they deliver in both their songs and their live show.
A marker is well and truly laid down when singer Vincent Brightling emerges on stage in leather trousers, a racey red evening dress and what looks like a Perspex version of the Pope’s hat. He’s followed by backing singers Sarah Gleeson and Laura Ann Brady dressed like futuristic air hostesses – think sexy Judy Jetsons and you’ve just about got it.
While the striking visuals and Brightling’s brash on-stage persona are full of humour, the band itself is no joke. A rock-solid rhythm section of brothers Jim and Tim Morrissey provides the backbone for what is pretty much foot-to-the-floor rock’n’roll throughout. Guitarists Elliot Moriarty and Ronny Nutsack complete the line-up.
From the first chords of opening song Please Leave Bob Geldof in Space there’s a joyous theatricality throughout. A few poorly positioned tables front and centre mean that the healthy crowd hangs at the back of the room. Initially there are a few confused faces dotted around, unsure whether or not it’s appropriate to laugh. By the time the band have rattled through songs like Twitter Storm In Lucan, Ten Years In Medical School Just To End Up Fitting a Plastic Anus For Joanna Lumley and We Must Be Shit Because Leo Varadkar Isn’t Here there’s little doubt as waves of laughter lap the room.
Avant Gardaí are a little like a musical version of South Park, and Ronny Nutsack the main song writer turns his pen on everyone from Pete Doherty to Nathan Carter. The acerbic wit that inhabits every line is viciously satirical, hilariously funny and almost certainly libellous. No doubt the band have friends in high places though as they announce that Ryan Tubridy has been considerate enough to lend one of his songs to their cannon, a cheery ditty entitled Why Do The Working Class Spit?
The evening is imbued with a wonderful sense of chaos. A couple of costume changes lead to the backing singers dressed as nuns with Chris de Burgh masks on chasing Brightly around the stage and out into the crowd during a catchy little number called Nightmare Vision of Chris de Burgh’s Head. Avant Gardaí are very much a product of the Ireland we live in; they relentlessly reach between the Celtic Tiger’s legs to give its tail a good tug. The Rubberbandits of rock, a Brian Cowenstown Massacre.
Photos: Aga Maru