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ROCK

Olympia, Dublin

The Original Rudeboys have achieved success in a thoroughly modern fashion – by ignoring the mainstream and building their audience one YouTube click at a time. Widely disdained by the media and derided openly by trendy blogger types, the trio have clawed their way out of the undergrowth, to the point where it seems perfectly natural they should sell out two dates at the Olympia.

From hardscrabble Ballybough, north Dublin, at moments Sean Arkins, Robert Burch and James Walsh (pictured) fall victim to contemporary pop's tendency to overshare (Arkins's ardent rapping can sound barely the right side of caricature). But they are capable of surprises.

The biggest curve ball is their facility for imbuing rough and ready songs with flashes of genuine tenderness, as on their hit 'Stars In My Eyes' (Walsh's insistence on hefting a tiny ukulele instead of a guitar is rather outside the box, too).

Granted, the relentless emoting has the capacity to overwhelm. When not treading in gloop, however, they pen serviceable pop that, as per the current vogue, combines acoustic rock and soft-focused hip-hop. In that regard their peers are UK artists such as Ed Sheeran (they've recorded with his producer) and the inescapable Passenger, as well as the tear-streaked high priests of Irish pop-rap The Script, who they have supported across Europe.

As with those acts, on stage the Original Rudeboys occasionally resemble the live music equivalent of a boozy group hug: ballads lurch at you; gushing and singing with eyes closed, feelings aren't so much worn on their sleeves as spilled messily all down their fronts. In particular, the bequiffed Burch's soft backing coos are so lip trembling as to border on parody.

Still, as you attune to the high sap content, the Original Rudeboys tunesmithery starts to shine. Sentimental though their repertoire often is, it is adroitly assembled, hooks and choruses arriving just as they need to. Judging by the rapture with which the band are received – the scrawny Walsh is rewarded with a volley of screams as he steps gingerly on a monitor and descends toward the front row – the performance certainly hits the sweet spot for a fan base which, on the evening's evidence, can't decide whether to dance or burst into joyous tears.

Like the Original Rudeboys themselves, you suspect that, ideally, they'd prefer to do both at once.

Irish Independent