The Dandy Warhols at The Academy, Dublin, 28th May 2016
“We’re the MTV generation. We feel neither highs nor lows.”
“Really? What’s it like?”
The above (mis)quote from The Simpsons comes from a time when both it and MTV were relevant. Even though the MTV airwaves were filled with the likes of Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder screaming their frustrations down the mics, the viewers were supposed to be sitting there placated by their sanitised world.
How true this stereotype is can be speculated elsewhere, but perhaps it no surprise that the Dandy Warhols rose from here.
They are perhaps a band best known for their refrain of “’Cause I like you/Yeah I like you/And I’m feeling so bohemian like you/Yeah I like you/Yeah I like you”; the epitome of not being able to reach those requisite highs in emotion. The last gasp “And I feel whoa ho woo” always striking as a little disingenuous.
This seems to come through live too. They enter the stage to little fanfare and with just a few nods and waves crack into Mohammed. It’s an ambient, almost foreboding number, performed here with the flair and precision that could signal a special show. Courtney Taylor-Taylor & Co predictably just nod their heads in time to the music, their faces betraying no sense of emotion.
It’s disappointing then that they follow this up with the relatively obscure, discordant Cracked Cocaine Ranger and lose the emotional cache from the opener. From here the remainder of the first half of the show seems to bob along pleasantly, without ever tightening a grip around the audience’s attention.
It’s a setlist here mostly made up of new material from the middling ‘Distortland’, but even the bigger hits don’t really seem to punch. Get Off for instance, sees Taylor-Taylor struggling to with some of the higher notes.
It’s the Dandy Warhols modus operandi that they stand aloof above the crowd, but they usually feel more immediate live than this. This they proved less than a year ago with a very fine show on this very stage.
Just as the crowd might sigh and thinks that the evening is set to end as a disappointment, there is an upswing. The band dip into their bag of tricks and find it loaded with hits. From Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth to Boys Better, six songs later, they showcase the impressive depth and breadth of their back catalogue.
The murmurs die down, the cobwebs are shaken off and the limbs are loosened to the music. It’s a great way to end the show, even if the impression that they are not firing on all cylinders never fully dissipates.
Ultimately it’s a show that never has the terrifying lows or dizzying highs but is content to remain somewhere in the creamy middle. To describe it as “Meh” would be harsh in the extreme; it is certainly an enjoyable show, and maybe it was never really supposed to hit the highs. Still it’s hard not to think that The Dandy Warhols have a little more to offer than this.