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AU58: Junior Boys live review

July 1, 2009

Junior Boys

JUNIOR BOYS, R.S.A.G., CIRCLESQUARE
ACADEMY, DUBLIN

Sunday night is never a great time for a gig, and especially not in recession-ravaged Dublin, so when we arrive at a near-empty venue shortly after tour support Circlesquare (low-key but intense, effects-laden art-rock) have begun their set, we have cause for concern. By the time local hero R.S.A.G. finishes, however, attendance isn’t looking so bad. R.S.A.G., or Jeremy Hickey to his ma, is an extraordinary live act. He drums and sings as visuals of himself playing the other instruments (acoustic guitar and bass, mainly) play on the screen behind him. The jury is out on how strong the songwriting is, but Hickey’s shrill blues holler coupled with exuberant and inventive drumming make him worth a watch.

And so Junior Boys arrive and it soon becomes clear that, although they are pretty far from selling the place out, those that have made it out are determined to make the most of the evening. Beginning with latest single ‘Hazel’, the Boys – Jeremy Greenspan on vocals, keys and guitar and Matt Didemus on a bewildering array of electronics, plus a guest drummer – offer up a rambunctiously fun dance party, which isn’t necessarily what we were expecting. On record, the band are cool and pristine, every inch the studio project; every word enunciated, every sound precisely teased from their machines. Live, though, the songs come alive, compelling the crowd not just to nod their heads, but to outright dance. At times it reaches a carnal level of intensity. “Let’s keep cookin’,” says Greenspan a couple of songs in, and they do.

For the most part, the thump from the (shit-hot) drummer’s kick drum is robust and relentless, propelling the industrial crunch of ‘Parallel Lines’ and the slick Italo of ‘Work’. There is more than one side to this band, though, and at times Greenspan’s velvety croon is the star, as the exquisite ‘Count Souvenirs’ and ‘FM’ swoop and hang in the air, the palate-cleansing sorbet to the rest of the set’s wickedly rich main course.

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