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melody-making IS name of the game

OH, that name. It's still there, folks – they haven't yet changed it. Well, not so much as to actually make a difference (Ham Sandwich are now HamsandwicH, which looks better on posters, I guess). And besides, it's too late now. The Kells indie outfit release a long-overdue third album this summer, and you can't go changing your business title after a decade. It'll confuse customers.

What's this sold-out Olympia shindig about then? Easter madness with the people's favourite band? A chance to show the public that HamsandwicH are not yet ready to throw in the towel? A bit of both, actually.

PECULIAR

Lead singer Niamh Farrell and guitarist Podge McNamee are still at the centre. The latter is clearly the class clown. He'll shake his ass for fans and kick-start a sing-song built around The Late Late Show theme. Decked out in a striped shirt and slacks, the bearded axe-wielder looks like he's just come from the office. Farrell, on the other hand, is still that cool indie chick with the fabulous white/blonde hair, cute dress-sense, Bowie make-up and elegant vocals. They're a peculiar match, but if it works it works. And HS (that looks better, guys) have always had something special.

They're a rock band with pop smarts, killer choruses and a pristine delivery that reminds us just how long these lads and lady have been plugging away. There's a brass section with them tonight. Ukuleles are utilised, floor toms are hammered and confetti and big balloons are unleashed. It's a party, that's for sure.

hope

The new stuff offers hope that album number three will be worth a download. The 'hits' (Animals and the triumphant Ants included) tell us that HamsandwicH have never been good at naming songs either. But the melody-making is truly fantastic, and Podge's eerie baritone offsets Farrell's sumptuous lead to create a beautiful clamour against a wall of guitars, percussion and trumpets.

There are surprises too. Inviting a trio of local drummers to join in for the superb Long Distance, the band turns what was merely another solid pop offering into a blistering rock show. Oh, and the disco fever encore (Donna Summer's I Feel Love) is a sensational move. Fingers crossed for the future. They deserve the best – even with a terrible name. HHHHI


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