Sunday 20 October 2019

Review: Polyphonic pop hits the sweet spot

Rock: The Polyphonic Spree, The Academy, Dublin

The Polyphonic Spree
The Polyphonic Spree
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

The Polyphonic Spree emerged in 2002 when David Bowie featured them at the prestigious Meltdown festival. Bowie has plenty of previous when it comes to championing new talent, as he famously shoved Lou Reed out of the art-rock margins and into the mainstream.

During a subsequent series of European festival appearances, including one at the former Witnness event at Fairyhouse Racecourse, Bowie's latest proteges became an instant summer hit. In 2015, the idiosyncratic Texan collective are celebrating their first 15 years with a European club tour performing their debut album The Beginning Stages of… in its entirety.

Fourteen people take to the stage clad in white robes, including a small string and brass section, a four piece female choir, a keyboard player, plus the traditional band backbone of guitar, bass and drums.

It looks and sounds spectacular, as The Beginning Stages… sounds terrific 12 years after its initial release.

The euphoric hit singles Soldier Girl and Light & Day/Wait for the Sun remain remarkably fresh and vital.

Singer Tim DeLaughter recalls their memorable Irish debut at Fairyhouse, and rues visiting Temple Bar the previous evening. Not all members of The Polyphonic Spree are still in active service, as a backing vocalist called Annie Clarke has since gone on to successfully ply her trade as St Vincent.

Anniversary tours are sometimes slightly cynical exercises in manufacturing nostalgia, but this is a rare opportunity to revisit a great debut album and see and hear an underrated pop phenomenon doing what they do best.

DeLaughter invites the audience to follow them to Belfast for the next stop off on the the tour. Several people seem to be taking his proposition very seriously indeed.

Irish Independent

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