Television at The Academy, Dublin, on June 12th 2015
This is Television‘s first gig in Ireland since…
Stop. We all know how long it’s been. For most new listeners, people who have stumbled across the Television who were once a mainstay at CBGB’s, it might be a bit of a jolt to hear that the band are still touring after their 1991 comeback.
What occurs first is a sense of some impending doom. The idea of a once hallowed, retired band coming back into the musical landscape suggests certain things straight off. That’s prejudice, though, and there’s no place for it here because the band turn out to be pretty damn amazing.
What is immediately shocking is the collective age of the band. They’ve aged considerably, obviously, since the release of ‘Marquee Moon’. The youthful abandon of their early days, wrapped up in the mythology of Rimbaud and Verlaine as it was, may be a distant memory, but it’s also a pliable one which does resurface throughout the night – in music which hasn’t aged or rusted but is just as provocative as it has always been.
One thing that you can certainly point to as an indicator of the band’s age is the quality in lead singer Tom Verlaine’s voice, which has lost quite a bit of gusto over the years.
Fortunately Television stick some quite long instrumental interludes into their set, in which they revolve extensively on the musical themes that appear in songs like Marquee Moon, which feels glacial in its incremental movement but also like it’s hemmed in on either side by the sharp foreboding of something like a barbed wire fence.
The charisma is still there, though they are quite incapable of dancing any more. The same twang that appears in Pete Doherty’s voice and Jack White’s growl are dripping from Verlaine’s vocal chords, seemingly throwing up a history lesson, revealing all those who have drank in the words and gestures of Television over the years.
By the end it becomes apparent that the night has been a retrospect. Granted that it’s one for someone who was -14 years old when ‘Marquee Moon’ was released, but the evening has the distinct sense of revisiting something lost. It’s doubtful whether the band can or will release another album, and at the same time maybe they shouldn’t. Their set is made up for the most part of their early hits, and on this night that is enough to transport the crowd to somewhere special.
At last, irony sets in, as watching through eyes half glued to the stage, the realisation that these four men – barely moving, no more than shuffling – are still capable of absorbing all your attention, of bringing you back into the fold of things forgotten but still cherished.