Gig review: Little Green Cars
Vicar Street, Dublin
For a band to sell out Vicar Street on the back of their first album is decent going in anyone's book. To do it twice on the first proper weekend of the Christmas rush is bordering on phenomenal.
Dublin folk-rock outfit Little Green Cars made their first significant breakthrough when the single 'The John Wayne' became a ubiquitous radio hit. They followed up on the promise of this inaugural smash with a number-one album, Absolute Zero, which became a chart-topping milestone in a year when indigenous acts Kodaline, Bell X 1 and Villagers also managed the feat.
Steve Appleby, Dylan Lynch, Donagh Seaver O'Leary, Adam O'Regan and Faye O'Rourke (pictured) start by hushing the auditorium with a haunting acapella song. It immediately stamps a sense of occasion on the evening and displays their incredible vocal harmonies before they play a single note. Appleby intricately plucks his guitar as the band get their hands dirty with their inimitable blend of folk, Americana, pop and occasional blasts of wholesome noise.
They've prompted lots of lazy comparisons to the new folk revival, and scene behemoths Mumford & Sons, but the harmonising and quality of their song-craft elevate them above the rest of the mandolin-strumming pack. Former member of The Thrills, Kevin Horan joins the quintet as an additional live member on keyboards.
'Big Red Dragon' is a shimmering slice of dream pop that any band would be proud to have in their repertoire. 'Harper Lee' with its arresting opening line, "Like a crash, I wait for the impact," is greeted like an anthem, as the band tackle its lovely cascading chorus. It's glaringly obvious how Little Green Cars stood out at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York.
Appleby is a slightly awkward frontman in a very endearing and likeable way. Every band member contributes vocals apart from live keyboardist, Horan. Recent single 'My Love Took Me Down to the River to Silence Me' shows off the full extent of O'Rourke's vocal prowess.
Another reason to be cheerful about the future of Irish music comes in the shape and sound of the intriguing opening act, Bleeding Heart Pigeons, from Limerick. A young three-piece without a bass player, they release their debut EP this week.
For an encore, Little Green Cars audaciously set up their microphones at the back of the auditorium and perform 'The Consequences of Not Sleeping'. It's a memorable parting glass from a band teetering on the brink of greatness.