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Saturday 20 January 2018

Review: The Riptide Movement live at Vicar Street

Dublin quartet The Riptide Movement
Dublin quartet The Riptide Movement
Ed Power

Ed Power

On paper, The Riptide Movement are a tough sell: four Mumford & Sons lookalikes for whom the soundtrack to Alan Parker's The Commitments apparently constitutes a major creative touchstone.

Attending one of their concerts you fear an evening of rootsy histrionics: there are overwrought backing singers, guitar solos that threaten to go on all night, a brass section so lit up with self-satisfaction it probably glows in the dark.

The thought occurs that the band might, accidentally, slip into a cover of ‘Mustang Sally’ at any moment.

Against the odds, the Lucan quartet have clambered to the summit of Irish music. Their latest album — their first on a major label — is expected to reach No 1 this week and they've sold out the Olympia three times straight.

Headlining mid-tier Vicar Street, many domestic acts experience a wobble of doubt. For The Riptide Movement, a 1,500 capacity venue is starting to look suspiciously like business as usual.

Crucially, they're beginning to build a reputation beyond these shores. When Bob Dylan was handed one of their CDs at the London Fleadh he was so impressed he passed the recording on to The Rolling Stones, who duly booked The Riptide Movement as support for their date at Hyde Park, London.

They also found themselves at a rock festival in Delhi after an Indian student linked with the event caught them busking on Grafton Street.

For all the surface turn-offs, a spell in Riptide Movement's company reveals real substance beneath the beards and superfluous saxophone.

Recorded with Dropkick Murphys producer Ted Hutt, new LP Getting On is endlessly charming, indebted to 80s indie rock one instant, prime Springsteen the next.

The band have mastered the trick of sounding uplifting without condescending to their audience: their hallmark is a rarefied jauntiness which ought to, strain the patience but is affirming and joyous.

In concert too, there's much to love, especially when they dispense with the frippery (at one point more than a dozen performers are on view) and permit the songs to breathe.

Stripped down and gutted of embellishment, rockers such as ‘All Works Out’ suggest Kings of Leon on the Liffey, while ‘How Can I Let You Go’ and ‘Hot Tramp’ have a folk-pop spring in the stride even as they avoid Mumford-style banjo abuse.

The Riptide Movement are the complete package — if only somebody would softly tell them that, occasionally, less can mean more.

Irish Independent

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