The Plague Monkeys
Vicar Street, Dublin,
Saturday 9th October 1999.
Maybe I'm getting old, but I like a bit of comfort. No longer does the idea of standing in the Point surrounded by thousands of others screaming at some over-produced band, who are so far up their own arses they don't even know you're there, appeal to me. Vicar St., still a relatively new venue, offered the perfect backdrop to a gig of such passion, enthusiasm and above all, sheer talent. Complete with cute little tables, squishy swivel seats (ooohhh!) and intimate candle lighting, it's easy to see why an artist such as Christy Moore has decided to only play gigs like this for the moment.
Supporting act David Kitt displayed a lot of promise. It's difficult not to draw parallels with the acoustic greats like Dylan and Cohen when listening to this charismatic newcomer. With only guitar and drum machine/synth, Kitt was good, but on the final song, 'One More Hour(?)' where he used a backing track he had prepared earlier, the fuller sound worked to his credit.
The Plague Monkeys are one of those bands who really have to be seen live to be believed. This gig marked the release of their second album, "The Sunburn Index", a more upbeat follow-up to their debut "Surfacing The Tension". An unassuming presence, the band take to the stage and perform a set which stimulates every nerve ending in the body - just to make sure they're still working. Much has been said of Carol Keogh's amazing voice. It truly is breathtaking - airy and haunting, soft and vulnerable, intense and frightening. Or as my boyfriend put it "That chick really wails". Nowhere is this more evident than on 'Over', where Keogh's voice alternatively draws us in and then pierces the air into tiny fragments.
Other impressive moments from the new album include the delicately sublime 'Sea Change', the uplifting '23C' and the emotive 'Exit' and 'Holy Smoke' after which the normally-so-subtle Keogh gives the finger to someone in the audience with a mobile phone. A gesture personified within the technology resentful 'Last Bus' "I have had enough of this/I'm gonna do the same thing tomorrow". The Monkeys also treated us to some welcome oldies such as 'White Feathers' and 'Breaking The Ice'. Included within the set were covers of 'I'm On Fire' - an uncharacteristically loud moment and a charming cover (of something which I haven't identified) with just cello and vocals.
You know a band are this good when a) they're on a plain of their own, defying comparison with anything else, b) hairs stand up in places that you didn't know existed and c) Louis Walsh wouldn't look at them twice.
by Anne-Louise Foley.