Talos at Whelan’s, Dublin, 8th December 2016
When Whelan’s is full, it’s full. Much like other venues which pride themselves on the intimacy of their surrounds, the atmosphere that comes with a sold-out crowd isn’t necessarily built into the fabric of the building. When it’s packed, you can tell.
Such was the case on Thursday, when Talos filled out Wexford Street’s finest and sweatiest, in the process notching another victory against anyone who doubts their ability to go the distance. Now seemingly formally operating as a “we”, instead of merely Eoin French and occasional others, the evening opens with an enthralling-as-always set from Bad Bones before Talos get to it.
The project, which GoldenPlec said in January was then “very much Eoin French holed up in his bedroom”, has been gradually maturing into a powerful live proposition, with a series of memorable festival appearances behind them from the summer.
Their current level is another step up for Talos, presently on a tour which takes them to Cypress Avenue and Róisín Dubh in the coming week. The parched, attenuated landscapes underpinning French’s best work, such as the beguiling In Time and the snarling, glacial Bloom, are rendered forcefully in the enclosed setting. Instruments backing up the singer from behind include cello and violin bowed-basses, adding deftly to the moody, blissed-out atmospherics.
French’s falsetto acrobatics, never particularly showy but always one of Talos’ calling cards, combine with his inviting, tender lilt in the lower registers to aid in constructing monuments of sound.
French introduces some newer material, some of it never played in front of a crowd before. Of these, Odyssey appears to be another standout. While it’s hard to tell in a live setting, the new songs seem to take a slightly different tack to what fans of the group may be used to, with a more driving, percussive backbone and a series of more overtly guitar-heavy passages. Music to get the blood flowing, and the Whelan’s crowd responds in kind.
The loudest reception, however, is saved for last, with Talos’ biggest song to date, Your Love is an Island, from this year’s ‘O Sanctum’ EP, its protracted repetition of the hook providing the evening’s most rousing couple of minutes. A brilliant piece of music, in honesty, and as appropriate a platform as any for Talos to continue building an already impressive reputation.