The Chameleons at Whelan’s on 30th December 2013
The Chameleons never achieved much in the way of success in their first stint of existence during the 80’s, but since their re-reformation in 2009 the band have continuously toured, and a busy crowd at Whelan’s proves that The Chameleons still retain a significant fanbase. Noise-rockers Princess play support, and their Sonic Youth-inspired tunes buzz and hiss pleasantly with guitar distortion. There are some elegant melodies buried beneath the guitar effects, particularly Molly, and the delicate, airy vocals are rather impressive. The band’s ability to jump from the smooth dreamy sections to the powerful, intense noise-fests is also rather striking and it’s a rather eye-catching performance by an exciting young band.
The Chameleons open with the brooding Swamp Thing, and the long build-up is the ideal way to begin the show. The song explodes into a gloriously catchy chorus, and Burgess proves his voice is still as strong as it was thirty years ago. In fact, all the musicianship is very good tonight, especially on Tears. Here the band members follow every subtle change with ease and the chemistry between them is a joy to witness. Soul In Isolation delights the audience, as Burgess manages to work Beatles lyrics into the tune. He also manages to sneak in the vocal part from Joy Division’s Transmission. These samples work surprisingly well, and the crowd respond enthusiastically.
There are moments though where the extended instrumental sections all get a bit much, and you can feel your attention slipping; the band maintain the same exceptionally high standard of musical ability throughout, but there is an overwhelming feeling of ‘we’ve heard this before.’ The songs still retain a great catchy element however, and Second Skin sees wild crowd surfing by members of the audience. The encore bears witness to The Chameleons’ strongest performances in the spiraling, meandering Caution and the fans favourite Don’t Fall. Despite the extensive moments of self-indulgence, it’s a strong set from a band with renewed vigour.
The Chameleons Photo Gallery
Photos: Colm Kelly