Saturday 20 January 2018


ed power

Academy, dublin

It's strange to think that there's never been an American Bono or Chris Martin. But the surprising truth is that when US rockers attempt to channel their inner U2, Coldplay et al the results are either horrifically saccharine (the barely disguised Christian rock of The Fray) or grumpy and grudging (see the deeply boring The National). Maybe this is about to change. Three hipster-types from New Jersey, Fun (styled 'fun' for reasons less than immediately obvious) are coming off a massive smash with the tear-smudged, distinctly Coldplay-esque 'We Are Young'.

Catchy and avowedly heart on sleeve, the song has turned out to be much more than a summer hit. It is a mission statement from Fun (pictured), who, judging by their interviews, regard it as their solemn duty to put emotive soft rock back on the map in an era of unprecedented pop dominance. Speaking to the Irish Independent recently they seemed genuinely exorcised by the lack of super-earnest stadium pop in the culture.

"Fun was the first alternative group to go to number one since Coldplay, a decade ago," said guitarist Jack Antonoff. "That was a very daunting statistic. We all believe in rock and roll. It's one of the greatest forms of expression ever. What's fantastic is that now we are here to carry on that torch."

They certainly bring a lot of righteous zeal to their Irish live debut. With fans down the front dissolving into screams every time frontman Nate Ruess adjusts his quiff (a marvellous affair which, were it any taller, might have required planning permission), the trio, backed by a gazelle-like keyboard player and a frowning bassist, are determined to show that, when it comes to communing with their 'people', 'We Are Young' was no one-off.

Stomping back and forth across a stage that is much smaller than the megadomes he regularly bestrides in the US, Ruess sings 'All The Pretty Girls' in a coquettish lilt, his faded Mickey Mouse T-shirt and sockless high-top runners giving him the look of someone striving a little too hard for retro chic. Meanwhile the unabashedly upbeat 'Carry On' and 'Why Am I The One' prompt singalongs from a sell-out room which feels a notch below hysterical at moments.

Inevitably, the loudest yells are for 'We Are Young', a feel-good ballad that, weirdly, is the least commercial tune the band perform all night. The lesson is clear.

Fun are going for the mass market jugular and, though you probably won't need to lock up your daughters, those with an aversion for drippy arena rock may wish to stay clear of daytime radio for the foreseeable future.

Irish Independent

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