The Redneck Manifesto in Whelan’s, 13 January 2018

Saturday night in the capital comes with its own expectation. Crowds of people, temporarily free from the stress of working life, flock to their establishment of choice looking for a golden night out on the town. The expectation is greater still for a Saturday night in Whelan’s – hallowed ground for all breeds of music lovers. This explains the electric atmosphere around the main venue as the crowd collectively waits for The Redneck Manifesto to take the stage.

The feeling lies somewhere in the balance between excitement and tension. The audience gathered has that special kind of Dublin diversity. A band as talented and renowned as The Redneck Manifesto will do that.

The appearance of Ritchie Egan sends a roar through the room. Said roar becomes deafening upon the other five members joining the fray. Guitar pedals click, amplifiers hum and the band launch into a blistering version of ‘Black Apple’.

Fresh from recording their latest album, the band sound astoundingly tight. Each individual member boasts the kind of musicianship best seen live. The intricate math rock guitar riffs are laid out perfectly. The rhythm section keeps the audience on its toes. Song parts bud and blossom, effectively building a captivating atmosphere. Suddenly the underlying ska rhythm of the track is emphasised and the carpet is pulled out from under your feet.

The crowd absolutely love it. The entire first twenty minutes of the set slip by in a wave of moshing and rogue crowd surfers. Onstage banter between Egan and guitarist Niall Byrne provokes cheers and laughs. After twenty years together as a group, putting on a show is second nature to The Redneck Manifesto.

Most excitingly, the outfit’s new material is superb. The provisionally titled ‘Spicy Number 1’ is an exercise in musical control. At this point, it’s important to note the contribution of keys and synth player Glenn Keating. Many members of the crowd may not even know it, but it’s his input that’s creating the thud they feel in their chest. When the hairs stand up on the audience’s neck, which they do often, it’s due in part to beautiful textures of the synth sounds.

Maybe it’s the heat in the Whelan’s main venue, but the set begins to lull at the forty-minute mark. This would make many bands wither, but The Redneck Manifesto hardly seem phased at all. After a quick beer break (featuring a guest appearance from Ed Sheeran’s urine) the band ramp the energy in the room all the way back up with new song and set highlight ‘Jar-Jar’. The song features a stunning chord progression courtesy of the guitars and an evolving rhythm section, coming to a head in an emotional crescendo.

Audience favourite ‘You Owe Me Five Potatoes’ signals the beginning of the end. The Redneck Manifesto finish an eighty-minute set to rapturous applause and a genuine sense of anticipation for the group’s new album. Another golden Saturday night to add to the list.