Thievery Corporation at Vicar Street on 7th July, 2019
Thievery Corporation is the brainchild of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton. Founded the year this writer was born, in 1995, they encapsulated a sound that would go on to emanate from coffeehouses far and wide.
Elsewhere, this threatened to devalue itself, getting lost in amongst countless ‘chill’ playlists, as perfectly explored in Liz Pelly’s essay, ‘The Problem with Muzak’.
What separates Thievery is not necessarily their audacity to blend so many different world influences, however. But rather a deeper engagement with instrumentation without ever coming across bloated or diffuse.
In addition to this, they provide the perfect platform for their frequent tour members and collaborators to flex their international muscle, almost making them the centre of attention.
This dynamic was brilliantly utilised by Mr Lif who, dressed in a waistcoat like a game show host, would invite others onto the stage to carry out their vocal roles.
The humility and appreciation for one another was perfectly summed up when turning to Frank O,-percussionist and apt substitute for David Byrne’s (of Talking Heads fame) vocals on The Heart’s a Lonely Hunter-Mr Lif proclaimed quite succinctly, “don’t deflect your shine”.
The camaraderie was palpable. When Hash (clad in a blue jumpsuit) wasn’t marching around stage, Puma would mimic getting reeled in by Rob Myers’ cables.
That was when Myers wasn’t sat on the couch in the centre of the stage like a shaman serenading us from his sitar, or else embarking on one of many guitar solos.
In many ways, Thievery provided the perfect antidote for those to become subsumed by the second summer of love (many of whom were in huge attendance, dreads and all). As demonstrated on the night, the band possess many of the same sensibilities that were at its heart – the motoric rhythms, the communality…
Recorded during the Temple sessions at Geejam Studios in Jamaica, the set adopted a very reggae feel, steady at times then wonderfully frenetic upon singer/MC, Racquel Jones’ arrival for Letter to the Editor and Road Block.
At the performance’s core though was the firepower of Myers who led the group throughout a triumphant encore to conclude what was a magnificent return after 15 years away from Dublin and one which João Gilberto (‘father of bossa nova’ who passed away earlier that day) could be proud of.
If there was to be one criticism, it would be directed not at the band themselves but the sound quality during Ghetto Matrix which sadly drowned out Argentinian singer, Natalia Clavier’s otherwise dulcet delivery.
Aside from that though, bualadh bos all round