Beak> at Whelan’s, Dublin on Sunday 18th of November 2012
BEAK> are playing to Whelan’s on a Sunday…a wet Sunday..in November; a month designed for staying in and saving money. And yet the place is pretty full. Not packed, but a larger crowd than you would expect on a wet Sunday in November. How has an alternative, ageing (by music standards) band drawn such a crowd?
Geoff Barrow’s involvement may be a factor, his role in Portishead elevates him to the pantheon for so many music fans. But a wonderful one hour set answers the question about the crowd more emphatically. They are here because Beak> are a great live act and those in attendance clearly have amazing taste.
It’s unclear if Beak> are reinventing shoegaze our merely just doing it very well. Lyrics are redundant, vocals don’t need to be clearly audible, they can be saturated in reverb and used as just another instrument. Creating this sound ? this enveloping sound ? this is one of best reasons to go to a live show; to be drowned in noise. Three experienced musicians who understand that noise in music doesn’t have to mean noise in the way your Granny means. In noise you can imagine. In noise you can reflect. In noise you can meditate.
The lighting helps; multi-coloured triangles flashing from various monitors like the old Electric Picnic logo. And, with a musical style that tends to go hand-in-hand with a few muttered words to the audience, the bands interactions with the crowd are surprisingly cheerful. For the majority of the show keyboardist Matt Williams appears to be making hilarious joke after joke. We say ‘appears’ because every time he goes to talk Barrows turns up his reverb. It’s the type of play acting you’d expect more from One Direction… if One Direction knew what reverb was.
The set is short, but refreshingly so. How many potentially great gigs lose their spark because of a misguided belief that ‘value for money’ refers strictly to the length of a set? They don’t even bother with the tedious ‘one more tune’ charade; “this is our last song but then we’re going to play a couple more”. And then it’s over. One hour of pure enjoyment. Not bad for a wet Sunday in November.