Lamb at IMMA, Dublin, 16th March 2015
To mark the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, organizers of the arts & music festival Body&Soul curated an evening of entertainment to celebrate Irish heritage. ÉRIU, taken from the name of an Irish goddess who according to legend gave her name to Ireland, brought together a two-course feast and music lineup of predominately Irish and Irish-based acts including R.S.A.G, Máirtín O’Connor Band and Katie Kim. What made the evening particularly special was its setting. Held in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the organisers opened up the cultural hub’s Baroque Chapel, Great Hall and Vaults to give the audience a unique and decadent experience.
Headlining the event’s Great Hall line-up were the experimental electronic duo, Lamb. Comprising the inimitable voice of Lou Rhodes and productions of Andy Barlow, the duo have spanned two decades of music since their genre-defying debut in 1996. After five records and endeavoured solo projects, Lamb released one of their most accomplished works to date last October. ‘Backspace Unwind’ featured a significantly concentrated electronic sound as their lyrics explored the idea of space, both its physical and mental embodiments. The record reflected and questioned human connection to each other, the surrounding world and the unknown as they interweaved string arrangements, voice and synthesizers.
With the Great Hall splashed in colourful wall projections amongst the historical portraits, Andy Barlow took to the stage punching the air with excitement as Lou Rhodes sweeped behind in an elegant floor-length white gown. They jump straight into the ominous sirens of the opening two songs of ‘Backspace Unwind’; In Binary and We Fall In Love. Their hour-long set played to the strengths of their catalogue to date, which featured their more immediate songs from their newest album and older ones such as Little Things. Their live interpretations remain true to their original recordings, yet hold an added power with electronic nuances and intense basslines which rumble in the chests of the audience.
Sadly, two things detracted from their show – both of which were beyond the control of the band. The acoustics in the room failed to blanket the whole hall, which often allowed for the chattering in crowd at the back creep in the listening experience. Also the overhead lights, which Barlow requested twice to turn right down, remained on for most of their performance. For the songs they were dimmed for, their sound became more entrancing and embellished the mood of the setlist. Nevertheless, the pair trooped on with an encore of their life-affirming ballad Gorecki from their debut.
Despite the slight sound and lighting issues, the band were not leaving without giving the audience one of the finest moments of the event. Their closing song, Transfatty Acid, came in like a bolt of crashing lightning. Lou’s echoes of “our love is strong enough to weather the snow, to weather the storm” circled the hall over a grizzly bassline before climaxing in a thundering frenzy. Together, Lou and Andy share an affective chemistry onstage that commands attention. Thankfully, the pair won’t be away from Ireland too long as they will return in June for Body&Soul’s full festival.