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'The Last Thursday gig at Voodoo'
By Angela Macari-O'Looney
Led by a nutcase with personality and 'The Look', this new and exciting band, whose members had invited me to come and see them with the new line-up, were too interesting to ignore. So I found my way down to Voodoo to hear them live and see the full Monty!
Taking their influences from old - school of Rock names such as 'The Rolling Stones', 'Guns'n'Roses', 'Aerosmith' and numerous other amazing metal bands, they have come up with a sound balanced between sweet melodica and loud kick-ass crunch!
On arrival with my guest, I headed inside to Voodoo where I remember hearing some great live music over the years. Tommy Kenny (aka 'Rockitt') who is the lead singer of Rifle Tower came over to shake my hand and I was also greeted by Wayne (Gaffo) Gaffney, Bass guitarist (also my nephew).
The first set was played by a very loud and lively band called 'THE RAPPORT'. This band consisted of three guitars; Bass, lead and Rhythm, vocals and drums. Their first number was called 'What ever happened to the Independent women' from their e.p Random Abuse. I loved the catchy little riff going on throughout and although it contains strong language and it is pretty heavy stuff for even my 'flexible' musical taste, it was performed with style.
'Turn off the Noise' a good old fashioned Rock'n'Roll number followed, with very impressive vocals. This is a memorable melody with bashing chords, rich lead and bass riffs and a thumping drumbeat. This action packed bunch really got you involved. I adore the melody of this song, especially the key change as it goes into the chorus. The cheeky lyrics sung with the lead singer's raspy voice really woke me up and they got a good response from the rest of audience too.
The next song, 'A certain superficial' had a very 'AC/DC' style and reminded me a little of 'Thunderstruck' one of my favourite Rock numbers. Flanger was used by the lead guitarist who performed nifty solos. They went on to do two more songs, 'Face to Face' and 'Solid Gold'. I liked this band and particularly felt a lot of sentiment in the last song where the singer explained as he introduced it, that this was going to be the final 'Thursday' gig at Voodoo. The lyrics contained an angry line of 'Don't start f...ing with the law' which was followed with a big 'NO' which he urged the crowd to shout. This got everyone in the place in great form and the show was now in full swing!
The members of this band have a very youthful appearance. But I heard them on My Space and I found that for such young people, they have quite a mature sound. Originally formed by cousins Ryan and Leon, guitarists Gaffo and Hego joining later on, this band's style leans towards a sound, much influenced by 'The Strokes', 'Kings of Leon', 'Red hot Chilli Peppers' and to add depth and contrast the guitarists are more turned towards Rock'n'Roll having strong interests in 'Guns'n'Roses, 'Led Zeppelin' and 'Thin Lizzy'.
As I watched the two guitarists pick their instruments up, I pondered on whether they could do such beautiful guitars justice. I didn't have to wonder for long though, as John Gaffney lead guitarist and Wayne's younger brother (and my other nephew), started warming up with some fancy riffs. WARM UP? As his fingers flew across the frets effortlessly, I could hear jaws hitting the floor including my own!
'King of Country' was their first number and this was the bass player Leon's opportunity to show off, which he did. I could feel his sweet riffs touching my soul and the tone of that guitar was just so beautiful that it lifted the whole sound of this band beyond description!
This band was going down very well with the punters as the number of audience members gradually began to increase. After the first band with such a focus on heavy rock, the mood here was easier on the ear, with more of a contrast between Rock and Indie sounds. Their second number was 'Last Nite' which is a 'Strokes' cover. With a slightly cheeky but nice attitude, Ryan performed this number very well and you could feel how he enjoys doing it. They continued with 'Moontown' and as both lead and bass were impressing the listeners with riffs and hooks so good I had to pinch myself, I noticed how well both gelled and complimented one another.
These guys who are really only kids would bring to mind for me, bands I used to listen to a lot way back in the late 70s to early 80s, only with a weird crossover from classic rock to alternative when the mood takes them. Having said that, they have this wonderful contrast down to an art, plus it's original for sure. They still throw in the occasional heavier riff to give and extra bit of oomph to the thing! 'Howl' was number five. This had a mysterious melody line using minor chords. John played a sweet catchy riff behind the verse. He also played a seamless solo.
Everything was so balanced and with the crowd growing, the show still felt like quite an intimate affair. The atmosphere was fun and laid back. A fair sized portion of my own family was taking up a few tables at the front so this definitely was shaping up to be an enjoyable night for me.
'June' was the next number. This got an overwhelming buzz of enthusiasm from the audience and as John shone doing a little show off riff someone shouted 'Gaffo rocks!' Ryan played a lot of rhythm while singing which was extremely appealing and created a full sound. With beautifully effective input from a bass guitar which in itself has a weird shape in appearance, this band gave an overall awesome performance to whet the appetite for the next act.
The third band up this night was a band with no name. Led by a female vocalist Lynda Carroll, they were a simple foursome. They got straight into their set with 'Burnam' which tended to be shared between herself and the lead guitarist. I noticed that Lynda's monitor was way too quiet which I always find frustrating to say the least. I could hear splashes of choppy guitar chords to funk things up a bit. The bassist did lovely riffs and they had quite a catchy sound. However I found this particular act just a tad of an anti-climax after the first two.
The lead guitarist made a remark to the sound engineer about the mikes. I have to give this guy a 'thumbs up' because this made one hell of a difference for the next number! 'In my way' was their second song and Lynda did very intricate vocals, sliding from one octave to another. She began to seduce my senses and as I looked around there were a lot of people being drawn in just like me.
'Insanity' – Fast with a strong drumbeat which was almost drowning out everything else, this was a Punk style number which brought me back to yet another of my favourite singers from the 80's, 'Toyah Wilcox'. That may not have been what inspired this number but it's what this old timer hears coming through!
Number 5 was entitled 'Insanity' and involved a sexy slinky style. As Lynda unleashed her amazing vocal prowess and breath control, there were a lot of impressed faces about.
The lead guitarist was now awake too, and used slinky riffs with the bassist's unwavering execution of every frame of every song, throughout the entire performance of this band. Is it just me or does everyone notice how pertinent and necessary a bass guitar is, no matter what genre of music is being performed?
They did quite a lot of songs or so it seemed. There was a song called 'For a reason' followed by 'Standin' in the way o'. This was fast and once again included a lot of jazz/punk notes in the verse. The chorus is very upbeat, as Lynda screams it out. Punky but Funky is how I could only describe the band with no name's sound!
A great sense of excitement filled the air after the band with no name finished. The ones we'd all been waiting for wasted no time. Sparing their audience any more apprehension, 'Rifle Tower' took to the stage. Funny guy Tom, two cool dudes on guitar and a drummer with a jaunty bass ball cap appeared as a roar of appreciation went up. Tom thanked all the bands and asked for a special applause for 'The Relaters'. Deep bass riffs played by Wayne (Gaffo) Gaffney as the intro to the first number – 'Rock your Soxx'.
All guitars were perfectly blended and the catchy riffs and lively chords on the rhythm guitar created a punchy confident sound! Dalen Kennedy on lead guitar, Ralph 'Technique' on rhythm and Wayne on bass ripped into well co-ordinated but sweet and memorable solos. This whole band just pulled you into the magnet of their mood with a big and bashing sound! Rob Roulette on drums was equally energetic and seemed to be really enjoying every minute of this opening number.
Last but not least the singer Tom Kenny attired in a bandana and his long shining mane with the full 'Axl Rose' meets 'Jon Bon jovi' charisma to delight the ladies, performed this number with a winning grin and professionalism that oozed from his head to his toes!
'Behind the Shadows' – This had a fabulous intro with a very 'Jon Bon' style verse. Raspy vocals seduced you backed by superbly played chords, as each member performed with a passion that would cut right through your soul. You could definitely feel Tom's influences who generally hail from the old school of heavy rock, come through when he sang. I loved watching him because he seems to just thrive on an attentive audience.
I once attended a Bon Jovi concert and the Mega star's knack of making you feel there are only you and him there, was really something! As I sat watching Tom, this feeling was recreated. I glanced around and could see this magic was spreading to every person here. The atmosphere was electric!
The third song was 'The Rocker' a 'Thin Lizzy' cover. With a clash of cymbals and distortion-packed riffs throughout plus choppy rhythm, this number was really enjoyable. Wayne grinned from ear to ear as he and Dalen faced each other down, playing cheeky little riffs and hooks using powerful sound effects. Paying tribute to one of the most outstanding Irish bands of all time, they had the crowd at Voodoo in the palm of their hands! Upbeat and extremely heavy with lots of distortion to boost the adrenaline giving it balls, the next number 'Last chance station' was exciting and packed with lots of key changes and fabulous drum beats to complete the picture!.
Wild and weird chords with sliding riffs played by both bass and lead behind Tom's exciting vocals, gave it that certain something that makes you feel like you just want to shake your head, play your air guitar and forget about all your inhibitions!
After this Tom introduced all the members of Rifle Tower, thanking everyone for coming tonight. He introduced the next song 'Where doves meet' and devoted it to his Nana. He's a softie underneath it all! A beautiful and soulful intro was played on lead, as quiet descended on the place and Tom sung with emotion. This song has a slow beat and a lovely melody line. The chords played by Ralph were beautifully dramatic. Then just after a sweet middle eight, a BIG build up gradually takes you to a lead solo that was outstanding! Everything was coming together for them so well as lovely sliding riffs and sensitive bass notes, wind this number down. A sound engineer went up to the stage. Initially all the acts on this gig were shortened without notice because an extra band was added onto the programme.
Tom and the lads had decided to finish on one of their favourite faster songs. But before he'd finished introducing it, his monitor was switched off and all sound equipment was deadened!
It was a minute or two before the audience and the guys onstage realised what was happening, but the soundman returned shaking his head as he spoke to a very unhappy lead singer. I could make out that the other members appealed to him to allow them play a final song to complete what should have been a 40 minute set. He refused, explaining that it wasn't up to him but the organizers 'Dublin Underground'.
Tom undid his monitor and jumped down to speak to the powers that be with no success. Instruments were gradually unplugged, while members of the audience inquired as to what could be done to allow the band finish. Wayne and Tom explained to me that through some silly effort to get more bands squashed into the programme, they were instructed to shorten their set. They were planning to do this, but by some unfair twist of fate, Dublin underground picked their act for further cutting.
In my few reviewing experiences I've never seen such a mass exodus of bodies leaving a gig as quickly! Voodoo was empty of customers, bands and supporters and surprisingly when I came back to collect my jacket I saw two guys appear onstage, one on a keyboard and the other on a guitar. They introduced themselves as 'Ritchie' to the two or three remaining punters and the barman. Before they began their set, they expressed their solidarity with Rifle Tower. To be polite I decided to have a listen to their first song to hear if they were any good. They started a song and seemed to be having a lot of technical problems. When they got into their stride they were quite disappointing and seemed unprepared for the live gig experience!
After their second song, myself and my guest left. Before going I expressed my own disgust at the mishandling of the whole event, which up till the sound being switched off, had been an overwhelming success. Is it stupidity on the part of these people who can't run a dogs dinner?
The members of Rifle Tower explained to me since, that it's a form of greed. The more bands that play on one night, the more supporters per band and in order to insure a full house, the extra band was belatedly added in the hopes of getting more punters. Somehow I think it kinda backfired. Don't you?
Rifle Tower will be playing at two upcoming festivals. I definitely won't miss a chance to see them play their full set since the song I'd been waiting for all night was dropped from the list, Kinks cover 'You really got me'. Rock on Tommy! Rock on Rifle Tower!
|Review written by: Angela Macari-O’Looney --|