The Walkmen at Vicar Street, Dublin on 29th October 2012
The Walkmen have built up a level of respect throughout the music industry; The result ten years together and six unique and creative albums. The last of these, ‘Heaven’, is arguably their finest, creating simple, catchy melodies and pairing them with the fantastic lyrical ability of lead singer Hamilton Leithauser. This album shows a shift to a more mature sound that sits well with the band. Just off the back of a long tour of North America The Walkmen kick-started their European on Monday in Vicar Street to a crowd a bit shy of a sell-out.
Opening act Wild Nothing took to the stage first to a somewhat muted reaction from the crowd. Their songs tended to float from one to the next without much clear definition between them. The energy was lacking and the band never seemed to want to interact with each other, let alone the crowd. Even with some of their better known songs like Summer Holiday and Chinatown, which drew some reaction from the crowd, the group never seemed too interested. It was a disappointing performance from a warm up but it certainly had people heading to the venue early with anticipation.
Having spoken with bassist Jeff Haley after their performance, he explained that both bands had been delayed heavily coming out of New York that day and that they had taken one of the last flights before ‘Hurricane Sandy’ hit the east coast of America. This, plus jet lag can probably be a contributing factor to a less than inspired performance. In fact, he said that the gig was very close to being cancelled altogether.
Shortly after Leithauser and co. took to the stage for the main attraction. Unfortunately their energy levels seemed to be of the same standard. In fact it wasn’t until a few songs in, with In the New Year, that the gig really seemed to get going at all. The raw power of the singer’s vocal ability truly is a sight to behold and kept the whole performance above water. He holds such command over the stage clinging onto the microphone stand as he blasts out each word.
The last three albums dominated the band’s set list, with those from ‘You & Me’ seeming to sit easier with the group and felt almost like moments of relief amongst the crowd. Having seen The Walkmen before, this performance certainly does not fairly represent what they are capable of. Maybe it was the dodgy flight plans that had an influence, but it appeared as though the newly mature men preferred to play the more edgy songs of their younger days. Perhaps it’s something they should take note of.
The Walkmen Photo Gallery
Photos: Aisling Finn