Wednesday 17 October 2018

A divine evening at the music club with old friends

Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

SAN Francisco's American Music Club have been making great music since 1985. True to their name, they mesh together various genres of Americana, country and folk into a unique and singular musical vision.

Sadly, they've been somewhat overlooked in recent times in favour of the latest next big things with shiny haircuts, but they still managed to draw a more than respectable crowd for their first Dublin engagement in quite some time.

Singer Mark Eitzel is renowned for being an extremely unpredictable performer. At a solo show in West Cork ten years ago, an inebriated Eitzel had an onstage meltdown, performing one of the most terrible car crash shows this writer has ever seen.

Fortunately, Eitzel appears a lot more comfortable when back in the company of his American Music Club cohorts. Songs from their new album 'The Golden Age' are a revelation, suggesting that far from a last hurrah, this band is going through a fascinating creative rebirth.

Plaintive and tender tracks like 'Decibels and Little Pills' and 'Sleeping Beauty' really couldn't have been written by any other band.

Eitzel does indulge in a few monologues and salty jokes that couldn't possibly be printed in a family newspaper. Thankfully, it never degenerates into the unbridled lunacy of his solo shows and is all delivered in a good spirit.

Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy fame is introduced onstage to sing 'Johnny Mathis' Feet', a minor hit in 1993, that became better known thanks to a Divine Comedy version. Hannon is in fine voice and delivers an excellent rendition.

While it's highly unlikely at this stage of their career that Eitzel or American Music Club will ever become particularly fashionable, they're far from being a spent force and are still brilliantly capable of replicating the form of their mid-nineties heyday.

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