Friday 24 November 2017

Gig review: Tasty band, shame about the name

Ham Sandwich: Great band, terrible name
Ham Sandwich: Great band, terrible name
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

Hamsandwich Olympia, Dublin

Courtney Love once claimed she begged her late husband Kurt Cobain to take what she calls “the Bono talk”. Presumably this refers to when Bono sits down with an emergent artist and offers some advice.

Kells band Hamsandwich have been on the receiving end of the Bono talk. The U2 frontman told them they should change their name. They’ve seemingly ignored such feedback. Now they simply stylise it as a single word. In recent years, Hamsandwich have become one of the most effective and entertaining Irish acts on the festival circuit, impressively stealing the show at Forbidden Fruit and Electric Picnic.

The band were managed by the late Derek Nally, who was a popular and charismatic booker at Whelan’s of Wexford Street. No doubt Nally would be immensely proud of their newfound success. Hamsandwich look the part as they take to the stage for their largest headlining show yet. The band were founded by Kells schoolmates Johnny Moore and Podge McNamee in St Patrick’s in Navan, which appears to be something of a showbiz academy considering other alumni include Tommy Tiernan, Dylan Moran and Hector Ó hEochagáin.

They really come into their own because of the stage presence and prowess of frontwoman Niamh Farrell. Farrell has grown into one of the best bandleaders in Ireland. She has a terrific voice and a highly likable personality. She is also quite obviously completely over the moon with her band’s packed to the rafters Easter party.

Hamsandwich have a dozen moderately successful singles to their name. This gives them a rock-solid base to construct a compelling set.

They perform a brief segment of the Radiohead song ‘No Surprises’. It sounds magnificent. “That’s a new song we’re working on at the moment,” Podge McNamee jokes. Thankfully, the real material that they’ve been working sounds as sharp as anything they’ve done yet as they premier a new song entitled ‘Cobra’.

A climactic rendition of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ brings the house down at the end of the main set, which is given further welly with a cowbell and space-hopper balloons bouncing around the auditorium.

During the encores, Niamh invites the audience to record a video of ‘The Naturist’, post it on their Facebook page and they’ll proceed to edit them all into a new video. It neatly encapsulates how Hamsandwich’s hard work ethic and fan-focused approach is paying dividends.

 Album number three is going to be big one for these boys and a girl. Something tells me it won’t be just Bono musing that they’re a great band with a terrible name.

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