Destroyer at Whelan’s, Dublin on Thursday 15th of November 2012
Vancouver native Dan Bejar, better known as the frontman of his band Destroyer, has been going, on and off, now for the best part of fifteen years. The height of his success has most certainly only come of late, however, with the release of his critically acclaimed album ‘Kaputt’ last year. Since then the album has really taken on a huge following being hugely touted by Pitchfork.com and The New York Times. Having built up a solid sound through the years ? on which fuses both jazz and a style of indie pop ? Destroyer have become a band that many truly cherish. With all that in mind their performance last Thursday was most definitely one not to be missed.
The crowd could only have been described as a mixed bag, men in their late thirties, young hipster types and a few couples dotted here and there. This is probably down to both the length of Bejar’s career and the recent success of ‘Kaputt’. An close to full Whelan’s main room grew increasingly itchy with excitement as the band spent a lengthy time setting up their equipment only to retreat and return in the usual fashion. The sight of Bejar’s wild afro-style hair set the crowd off and cheers here and there encapsulated the wait they had all undergone. Sinking to the floor while the band began the intro to Your Blues, he allows the band to soak up the adulation of the crowd and then re-emerges from the stage floor when it comes time to play his part.
Including Bejar the band has eight members which is almost a struggle to fit onto the meagre Whelans stage, but is completely necessary to achieve the sound that Destroyer do. Savage Night at the Opera lets the crowd know that they have come to see a full band experience with each instrument being pushed to the max to create a wonderful surge of jazz based indie pop. The momentum is unfortunately halted as soon as it begins to build when the drummers snare skin breaks only four songs in. But it’s not long later with Downtown that Bejar truly holds the crowd in the palm of his hands once more. His voice is just on the right side of almost break, feeling strikingly delicate and complementing the saxophone and piano led melodies.
Suicide Demo for Kara Walker is an outstanding highlight of the evening and really sums up the wonderful aspects of the unique music that Destroyer make. Spanning more than eight minutes it is never too much nor dragged out, and feels exactly right with mesmerizing distorted trumpet and saxophone solos. Bejar would at times remind you of a more chilled out Mick Jagger such is his magnificently flamboyant and intoxicating stage presence. Should they return to these shores hopefully they will be spread across a larger stage. If they do they are a recommendation to say the least of it. At a minimum ‘Kaputt’ is an album that should be listened to.
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Photos: Aisling Finn