Norwegian YouTube sensation Boy Pablo’s first visit to Ireland was an energetic, fun-filled affair, with the Bergen-wave act delivering a colourful set of upbeat happy/sad indie pop likely to fill the angstiest of teenage hearts to the brim.
Led by Nicolás Pablo Rivera Muñoz (That doesn’t sound very Norwegian we hear you say. Well, that’s because Boy Pablo is of Venezuelan descent. Isn’t immigration great?) the group of school friends deliver a tight performance with spontaneous covers and in-jokes that keep both the crowd and the band in the moment throughout.
When they segue into Party in The USA, the band can barely contain their giggles. A later a capella version of Afternoon Delight is impressively precise and, when they break out Katy Perry’s Roar, it’s hard not to get swept along by the crowd’s enthusiasm.
There’s much more to Boy Pablo than a few novelty covers though. The quintet are an impressive unit, dishing out simple but perfectly placed melodies. There’s a hint of The Shadows to lead guitarist Gabriel’s riffs, though you can be sure Hank Marvin never took a solo behind his back.
The influence of Mac Demarco – who played across town at Metropolis festival this weekend – hangs heavy across much of Boy Pablo’s music, with veteran Scandi act The Cardigans also omnipresent throughout the set.
Songs such as Feeling Lonely, Dance, Baby! and Losing You glisten with care-fee melodies and danceable hooks built for radio, while Sick Feeling soundtracks the first snap of heartstrings with aplomb. What’s further encouraging is that Boy Pablo’s breakthrough hit Everytime is nowhere near the best song in the set, which suggests these Bergen boys will be remembered for more than one viral video on YouTube.
Meanwhile, keyboardist Eric Tryland plays the jester to Boy Pablo’s shy persona perfectly, egging the crowd on throughout and by the end of the show he’s topless, with a shopping cart on his head. It feels completely natural.
Natural is a perfect summation of Boy Pablo’s aesthetic. There’s no frills, no gimmicks, just a bunch of goofy kids enjoying themselves onstage. They aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, they just want to tell the world how they feel in three minutes or less and make you dance in the process.
It’s a well-worn path to be sure, but Boy Pablo do it with more panache than most. Ireland’s pop bands could learn a thing or two from this show, that’s for sure.