Boy Azooga at The Workman’s Club, Dublin on 10th May 2019

“Smiling is infectious/You catch it like the flu/When someone smiled at me today/I started smiling too.” The first stanza of the poem Smile – attributed by many to the late Spike Milligan – is one that perfectly encapsulates the feeling you get while watching a Boy Azooga show. The unbridled joy that Davey Newington and co approach their live set is like no other band you will see. There’s no ego here, no fake personas, no bullshit. Just bloody good musicians playing bloody good music and having a bloody good time doing so.

It didn’t take long for the Welsh four-piece to be welcomed as if they were Irish heroes returning home for the first time, as their stage entrance is soundtracked by Fontaines DC’s Big. While the audience is hooked in from the off, it takes Boy Azooga a couple of songs to find their feet, with Davey apologising early on, blaming ring rust for a few mistakes, not that anyone noticed. The cheers from the crowd for the unmistakable intro to debut single Face Behind Her Cigarette seem to jolt the band into gear and it’s plain sailing from there on in.

New songs Go Out Raise The Dead, Jackie and Splott 5-0 all slot in seamlessly, with the latter, written about the part of Cardiff where Davey lives, forming part of a thrilling trio of tracks including a cover of The Table’s 1977 hit Do The Standing Still. There are a handful of synchronised “dance moves” (if you can call slowly turning either 90 or 180 degrees and back again a dance move?), glorious, elongated riffs and just a half a teaspoon of audience participation. It’s a simple recipe, but it’s always the simple recipes that taste the best when they’re prepared with as much love and care as Boy Azooga bring to the table.

A duo of the excellently-named beauty that is Breakfast Epiphany, followed by the short-sharp blast of their most well-known single Loner Boogie close out the show in style. Boy Azooga are a bundle of joy in a world full of reasons to be negative. Not only are they excellent musicians, but their attitudes are a testament to the old adage that you’ll find that life is still worthwhile if you just smile.

*Feature image from Boy Azooga’s previous Dublin headline show at The Grand Social