Review: Midlake at Vicar Street, Dublin, Sunday 23rd February

Every now and then, a band arrives into town that aren’t necessarily the most renowned, and in some cases, this is an awful shame. This is one of those cases. Midlake, who hail from Texas, fill the floor of Vicar Street tonight, but leave much of the balcony empty. However, throughout the night’s performance, they go about proving why all those who chose not to buy tickets are idiots.

Throwing themselves into it, the series of opening tracks includes the immense Provider. Entrancing the crowd, Midlake display their utter tightness, even in this hugely harmonic, atmospheric tune. One of the synth players takes to the flute, creating over a short time an amazing looped flute passage which is highly clashing but fits into the song remarkably well. We Gathered In Spring shows off more atmospheric writing, with open synth lines and more soft harmonies.

Vale is a phenomenal addition to the set. This instrumental offers Midlake a chance to show off their skill beyond traditional song writing, and this is just what they use Vale to achieve. It’s hard to decipher between each instrument as each line blends together to create the life of this highly layered song, but this is where the joy lies. The flute dips in again to add a tonal chance from time to time, showing off some incredible technique and control in the process. The song displays its own range of emotions, as the music moves from reflection, to heavy and angry, to relaxed. This is truly a highlight of the set, and sets the band above and beyond many of their peers.

Children is just as entrancing. Built on big harmonies, the sound is wide and smooth, lulling the crowd into a false sense of security just before the rug is pulled out from under their feet, as a jagged guitar riff rips through the air, shattering the illusion. This is what Midlake do best. Constantly changing textures, sounds and harmonies keep the sound fresh, which some bands aiming for this large atmospheric sound find difficult.

Roscoe and The Old & The Young close the set. Roscoe is a big crowd favourite, and is just as tight as any other song on the set tonight. Returning for a encore, the crowd is rapturous, and can’t give enough love to these Texans.

It’s an great shame that a band like Midlake don’t sell out Vicar Street. A show like this, so complex but so tight, puts them above and beyond most other bands of their generation. This is music with real thought and talent behind it. Not just your generic four chord pop songs are on offer tonight, but real, honed and highly developed sounds, chords and techniques. For those who don’t know them, they can’t be recommended enough – they truly are a diamond in the rough.

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Photos: Mark Earley

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