Published 14/02/2012 | 06:00
The Minutes arrive dressed mostly in black, wearing painted-on scowls. Initially, their music seems about as welcoming as their fashion sense, the apocalyptic bass and drums a brooding backdrop for singer Mark Austin's splenetic caterwaul and carpet-bomb guitar style.
When he starts pouting extravagantly at the photographers massed beneath his feet, it's all you can do not to roll your eyes.
Gradually, though, it becomes clear the Dublin three-piece know their way around a decent pop tune and may actually deserve the swell of hype since storming the Eurosonic rock showcase in the Netherlands last month (their buzz-band status confirmed by a recent placement on a Sky Sports ad). A Frankenstein mash-up of Joy Division, White Stripes, Led Zeppelin and pre-rubbish Kings of Leon, their sound is a rollicking, rumbling beast of a thing: sulky and terribly po-faced, yet propulsive and thrilling.
Crucially, there's humour here also. Backed by video footage of hissing TV static, the cathartic opening track, for instance, culminates in the cod philosophical coda of 'Jesus to Mecca, Jesus to Mecca!', which Austin shrieks with his hands held aloft. It's a Bono moment, surely not meant to be taken seriously.
The real lift off is Black Keys, a rattling, smoke-belching dreadnought in the face of which resistance is futile. Mopping off the sweat, Austin follows with an hilarious, possibly tongue-in-cheek, tirade against all the journalists who -- oh, the fools -- assume the song is about Ohio blue-rock duo The Black Keys, with whom The Minutes share a scuzzbucket sensibility.
"Listen to the lyrics," he bawls. "It has nothing to do with the Black Keys ... F*** the Black Keys!"
It's a funny rant but you have to wonder at his animosity for the media. After all, it's the music press which has been breathlessly talking up The Minutes for the past 18 months.
The likely truth is that Austin understands the value of winding people up. Too many Irish groups mumble their way through their careers, afraid of doing or saying anything remotely controversial.
The Minutes have evidently decided the best way to sell themselves is to wax snotty and anti-establishment.
This a gambit -- everyone likes to see a loudmouth fall on their behind. But their songs are so fantastic they might get away with it.