Given the size and location of Athlone it’s surprising it hasn’t become a regular touring spot for acts on the Irish music scene. Promoter Aaron Casey has taken it on to rectify that matter and in conjunction with the Palace Bar have made it their mission to bring the cream of Irish bands and artists to the midlands. Starting from scratch isn’t easy, but it’s like the situation for Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams, “build it and they will come”. After a successful gig last month with Le Galaxie, this time it is the turn of Limerick’s Windings to be the headline act.
That isn’t to say the undercard wasn’t impressive as it was. Cathal McCormack , who is the front man for local Athlone punk outfit JP13, did a solo performance on ukulele and electric guitar. Without his band, he cuts a slightly awkward figure, but he possesses a self-depreciating humour especially when wondering aloud how he is going to fill in the last seven minutes of his set. Dublin band New Valley Wolves deliver an impressively punchy set. This two piece act steer away from the stereotypical blues rock sound that a lot of two piece bands seem to be generating. Jonny Lucey’s untamed vocals coupled with Baz Joyce’s reassuringly firm drumming style provides an edge to their set where Fire In The Blood and Rabbit stood out.
Fast rising Cavan three-piece The Radioactive Grandma have a deceptive simple setup of cajon, acoustic guitar and electric guitar which tricks you into thinking it couldn’t possibly be as full on as what actually transpires. Their three-way harmony driven, spiky brand of acoustic rock flies out of the blocks with the hyper infectious Don’t Look Down and the soaring Waves being particularly impressive.
However this night belongs to Windings. With a Choice Music Prize nomination safely in the bag for their acclaimed album ‘I Am Not The Crow’, this is a band perfuming at their peak. Unsurprisingly most of ‘I Am Not The Crow’ comprises the majority of the set list. Sun in The Bones eases the band into the gig and the tone for the evening is really established with the rousing This Is A Conversation.
Thankfully some of Windings older material gets a run with The Hassle and a sprawling These Horses Also Ran delivered with aplomb. Local Broken Man resonates around the venue and it’s hard to not be impressed as the song cascades to its conclusion. Patrick O’Brien had a veritable arsenal of instruments and it was like a magician pulling a rabbit out of the hat as to what would be produced on each song. This is an assured performance from Steve Ryan and his band, and they moved through their set effortlessly. They clearly come across as a band confident of their ability and they exude this, without the need for showboating. Each band has a period when they can identify that they are on the cusp of something great and this is where Windings currently find themselves.