Ham Sandwich at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 29 May 2015
Ham Sandwich have come a long way in the past few years. As one of Ireland’s hardest working bands, it’s always nice to see them in a setting as iconic as the Olympia Theatre. For the second year in a row, the Meath band took to the stage in the Olympia and delivered a show that won’t soon be forgotten.
Opening the night was Third Smoke, a young band from Dundalk that utilise a wide range of vocal talent to deliver their upbeat, indie sound. Initially, the percussion seemed to drown everything else out, but by mid-set, the band had settled and the audience were treated to lush vocal harmonies from all five members that intertwined seamlessly. At times, Third Smoke are a band you’d see down your local on Friday nights and at others they’re a band with a sound that could fill any room regardless of size. Third Smoke were more than an apt opening act, and set the scene perfectly for Ham Sandwich.
As always, Ham Sandwich were dressed to impress (Podge donned a get up that wouldn’t be amiss on Ace Ventura). Kicking off with the contagious White Fox, it doesn’t take the band long to settle. The usual four are flanked by extra musicians – a keyboard and guitar on the left and a beautiful orchestral section on the right. The ability to add different dynamics to their live performance to elevate the impact is something that Ham Sandwich excel at, and tonight is no different.
This is the first big Ham Sandwich show since the release of their third album, ‘Stories from the Surface’ and it was interesting to see how the newer songs gelled in with old favourites. For the most part, this was successful. Hold Me Up and Satellite were particular highlights.
Animals shows off the ever impressive contrast of Niamh and Podge’s voices excellently, while Models is taken to whole new heights by the addition of the orchestral section. Everything sounds better with violin and trumpet.
After a brief announcement of “this is how we used to sound,” by Podge, the band kick into Words, a clear highlight of the night. This song shows off a slightly heavier Ham Sandwich which the crowd are more than happy to hear. Never Talk is another high point of the night, with the refrain of “my heart on my sleeve/my head in my hands/everyone says this love won’t last,” being belted out by both Niamh and the entirety of the audience. It was one of those special moments where the band shared genuine grins and were clearly thankful for how far they’ve come over the past few years.
The Naturist and Ants are as well received as always while the folky All Worthwhile adds a softer element to the night. A cover of Talking Heads’ This Must Be the Place, dedicated to Niamh’s dad, also goes down well. The now iconic Illuminate ends the night in a blur of confetti and giant balloons; a suitable end to a night that was full of excitement and enticement.
Ham Sandwich are a band that deserve every big stage they occupy. They are endlessly hard-working and manage to be humble while doing it. The Olympia Theatre was once again treated to their captivating live show, and it probably won’t be long until they occupy those walls again.