Hobo Johnson and The Love Makers at Vicar Street Dublin, 28 January 2019
Six months on from the sold-out Whelan’s show in July 2018, Frank Lopes Jr, AKA Hobo Johnson, is back in Dublin, on a Monday night and again he’s brought his Love Makers.
The gig kicks off with the beautiful and wild Romeo & Juliet. The band is on stage as only the faint piano intro plays and frontman Lopes waits in the wings. When Lopes sprints to the front the full band come alive and so do the crowd. Rocking heads and flailing arms can be seen through the strobe lights.
The band successfully reinvigorate the somewhat lo-fi Hobo Johnson back catalogue into a sound that rocks the room and captivates the audience at the same time. Lopes’ charm is not diluted by the full band sound however, as he sincerely delivers the sentiment of the spoken-word style verses. With only the exception of the new track You Really Love To Dance falling short. The addition of three electric guitars, while clouding the vocals, comes across as just another standard pop-punk song.
In keeping with the Hobo Johnson bumbling persona, the set has it’s fair few technical difficulties, with equipment cutting out mid-song. At one stage it seems the entire PA cuts out, as the band stop right in the middle of Father.
Not to worry though, as the problem is being seen to, the crowd are on hand to urge singer Frank Lopes Jr to “chug chug chug,” upon brandishing his on-stage bottle of booze. But chug he does not, so the crowd move on to the classic “olé olé olé,” followed by a beautiful rendition of “ooh ah up the RA,” until the problem is fixed.
Throughout the set, breaks in the music allow the crowd to be heard, with Lopes’ lyrics rebounding loudly from the masses. It’s a devout audience with letters, chocolates, flags and bras being gifted to the stage – showing the affect this kid from California has on them.
Also, mushy peas were handed up, but that’s maybe too surreal an affect to unpack. “I’ll take the letters, but I don’t want mushy peas.” Lopes jovially proclaims.
The set comes to a close with the fan favourite Peach Scones, raising the crowd’s decibel range for the night. Followed by an encore of a solo performed 3% and a full band cover of Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You.
The latter finding Lopes leaning over the crowd barrier for a sing-along, ending the last night of their tour and the sort of party that Monday nights rarely see.