It’s always the way.
Pre New Years’ Eve pints with absent friends.
A hectic, frankly unwieldy and, by midpoint, unwanted festive sports schedule.
Then your correspondent not knowing how to get to and from Stoneybatter half as well as previously thought.
All combine to command that apologies and mea culpas must be meted out to Alien She and Death the Leveller in equivalence, with appropriate levels of sorrow quantified as the reader sees fit.
Saturday evening Guinness duly mopped up by a remarkably acceptable Centra pizza, arrival upstairs at the Voodoo coincided almost precisely – if unintentionally – with NAUT taking the stage.
Witty bon mots about the obvious influence (or lack thereof) of weighty Northern Irish stalwarts and almost-namesakes enjoyed and adjourned, the Bristolians’ blend of post-goth, post-punk is an enjoyable if slightly-all-too-similar aperitif to the main fare.
NAUT’s punk influences are perhaps most obvious in the spasmodic energy and joie de vivre they bring to the stage, particularly with ‘I’m Here’.
If eerie keyboards adding depth to the band’s compositions are sadly drowned out in the mix, the enthusiasm brought – particularly by a balding and well-bearded guitarist – is a coherent and agreeable counterpoint to our vocalist’s channelling of Andrew Eldritch.
‘Disintegration’ is their most impressive tune, marrying together much of what’s done well: a throbbing baseline, wrangled guitar, and tenebrous vocals underpinned by serviceable percussion.
Honourable mentions to that excellent guitar tone, somewhere between the stained glass of Negative Plane and the jangle of a Woody Guthrie.
Listening back to the Bandcamp selections, it’s worth wondering if the speed and sweat of the live environment could be distilled even more successfully for the forthcoming EP.
By the time Grave Pleasures make their triumphant, short journey from backstage to front, the room is heaving: a perfect mix of a DIY, off-the-cuff feel mixed with heady appreciation that a great band has arrived.
Diving headfirst into a romping ‘Infatuation Overkill’, it’s clear that Mat McNerney and this latest iteration of the band are committed to lifting the energy levels to apex, Rainer Tuomikanto adding a newer, more aggressive bounce to the affair than previous sticksmen.
Newer cuts – ‘Doomsday Rainbows’, ‘Be My Hiroshima’ – are devoured gratefully, joined by the stronger elements of the poorly-received Dreamcrash, ‘Crying Wolves’ and ‘New Hip Moon’ amongst them.
Most comfortable when alternating between 2017’s excellent ‘Motherblood’ and the bona-fide classic Beastmilk tracks belonging, as McNerney jokes, to a lifetime ago, it’s something of a shame that Dreamcrash’s efforts don’t get more of an airing.
However, with songs of the quality of ‘You Are Now Under Our Control’ and ‘Joy Through Death’ in the armoury, it’s not difficult to see why.
The ecstatic apocalypse jaunts of ‘Motherblood’ are a more-than-welcome return to the best of Beastmilk (RIP), and the new members – whether hired hands or committed Deadenders – are to be commended for one of the albums of the year.
As this performance once again proves, however, it’s McNerney’s stage.
Ably supported, his vocal range is consistently excellent: from the doleful, Nick Cave preachings of ‘Atomic Christ’ to the lupine howls of ‘Falling for an Atom Bomb’, it’s Grave Pleasure’s strongest and most important instrument.
Ending with ragged, jubilant versions of ‘Death Reflects Us’ and the staple personal highlight of ‘The Wind Blows Through Their Skulls’, Grave Pleasures climactic reboot rattles the bones of 2017 before a new year of plutonium prophets and rumours of war.
With clenched fists and bodies jammed against the walls, the Voodoo guldered its appreciation.
– KGT ::: 01/01/18
– With thanks to Simon Ward and Ifreann Photography for pics