Just a hop, skip and a Luas line away, hometown titans U2 are finishing their weeklong invasion of 3Arena (review here) but here in the National Concert Hall another Irish quartet is trying out something a little bit different.
With a decade under their belt, Delorentos have headlined festivals, crisscrossed the country multiple times and bagged Choice Prize nominations for three of their four albums, including one win for ‘Little Sparks’. So they may have wondered, where to from here?
The answer is their most personal gig to date. In the lush surrounds of the National Concert Hall, the Dublin group have taken on the task of reworking a hefty chunk of their back-catalogue for this new setting.
Opening tonight is Forget The Numbers, which gets a lush reworking. Pace Yourself benefits tremendously from the stripped back focus on lyrics and melody, with just a pair of subtle sparse guitars backing most of the song. Whilst Show Me Love gets a very drastic reworking, with the vocal melodies being changed to sound more like a Motown classic (which on paper doesn’t sound like a great idea but works surprisingly well).
The band is in fine form, noting how the laid-back pace lends itself to storytelling along the way. They are also keen to point out how they spent a month rehearsing this set and none of that time was spent on the storytelling, but it is so natural we doubt anyone is going to be pulling them up on it.
It is a testament to the strength of their songs that they hold up so well in this form. The more frantic elements have been smoothed away to leave an exposed, almost microscopic focus on lyrics and melody. Waited For You So Long is taken at a more leisurely pace than normal and is all the stronger for it. This new form puts the focus on the songs meandering melodies.
The immensely personal Petardu is prefaced by frontman Kieran McGuinness explaining how it was inspired by the search for his birth mother, and getting teary-eyed in the process. The whole thing is backed beautifully by a twinkling piano.
The songs aren’t the only thing getting a shakeup tonight. They’ve also done away with the usual opening act/headliner divide. Instead, tonight’s ‘support acts’ – The Young Folk & Maud In Cahoots –pop in and out throughout the show to lend their services. Both acts bring a range of vocal prowess along with additional instrumentation (melodica and trombone from the former, violin and cello from the latter).
S.E.C.R.E.T closes out the main set with a gorgeous makeover, utilising a 9-piece female choir. The bridge section is given entirely over to the choir, which makes the choir’s addition more than an afterthought. It’s no surprise then that the entire crowd are fully involved at this stage, either singing or clapping.
It’s hard to find fault in tonight’s show when every aspect has been so well considered, but if pushed, we can’t help but wonder how much more spine-tingling it would be with an acoustic piano on-stage (instead of the small electric piano we have) to combine with the halls beautiful acoustics. Especially given Little Sparks, Petardu, and Six Months To The Day, amongst others, are all piano led.
Now we know we already have MTV Unplugged and VH1 Storytellers, but we can’t help wanting more bands to take this approach on occasion. Especially given that, said shows only cater for bands at the summit of music mountain. For an Irish band to showcase their back-catalogue in such a way and in such a venue is a real treat.