Saturday 20 April 2019

Footloose funkateer's new cuts hit the spot


Republic of Loose The Academy, Dublin

MICK Pyro, the footloose funkateer who fronts Republic of Loose, is patting his belly. "Four weeks from now," he tells the Academy, "I'll be a stone lighter."

It's the first night of the Republic of Loose's month-long residency at the Dublin venue and Pyro is leading the group through a two-hour set of (mostly) new songs.

For those familiar with the Loose oeuvre -- transatlantic soul and R&B laced with Dublin grit -- the fresh material sounds like an escalation of ambition and technique.

The riffs are fatter and more purposeful than before and Pyro's delivery rings with new-found steeliness of resolve.

Backed by a crafty six-piece band, Pyro takes Roddy Doyle's quip that Dubliners are the 'blacks' of Europe -- a comment that feels hopelessly outdated in multi-cultural Ireland of 2008 -- and turns it into a mission statement.


Slinking about the stage, the singer asks you to join in as he makes a spectacle of himself. His moves are more wedding-dance flap than Harlem shuffle, but he carries his shtick off with so much charisma you find yourself applauding instead of guffawing.

Still, you've got to wonder how much of this will translate to record. Republic of Loose have been lauded as Ireland's greatest live band since their 2004 debut, 'This is the Tomb of the Juice', a compliment that eludes to the fact that, in the studio, they don't always bottle the magic.

Some of the new cuts hit the sweet spot -- 'Things I Don't Like' and 'Got' are both swaggering stabs at Celtic hip hop.

Tellingly, the evening's standout moments come as the final curtain looms and Republic of Loose start looking back rather than forward.

First, the Loose romp through 'Comeback Girl' and 'You Know It'. Then Sinead O'Connor emerges to lead the band through a funked-up version of 'Nothing Compares 2 You'. If Republic of Loose could hit such peaks all the time, the world would surely be theirs for the taking.

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