The Vibrators: Dublin – live review

The Vibrators + support
Fibbers, Dublin
16 November 2012 

The Vibrators headlined a night of punk in Dublin earlier this month with all four bands playing crowd-pleasing sets.

Friday was an exciting night for music in Dublin – two hometown heroes, a band who made the trek down from Enniskillen after a brief hiatus, and another who crossed the Irish sea for their Dublin debut after a recent tour of the US.

Setting Off Sirens are a riveting live experience, tight and wild, they manage to sound gigantic yet caustically punk. A lot of that is down to lead singer Kevin Mchugh’s incredible voice, and stage manner. It’s impossible to take your eyes off him. He performs to the crowd in Fibbers as if he was playing to a stadium, but it’s not a bloated performance that outsize’s the stage, it’s just so robust, and blissfully energetic. The impact only works though because the band is so taught, and vigorously accomplished, delivering each number in a short sharp shock.

It’s the band’s first gig since a short break that allowed Ciaran McNulty to become a Dad. The mood is celebratory, and they band sound refreshed from their break, the set features new songs, as well as plenty from their 2010 opus, ‘Step Up’, including ‘Ready to Go’, an unbelievably powerful track lead in with a pulsating guitar riff with the whole band blasting in on “Go!”, ‘Caught Unawares’ has a wickedly addictive sing-along chorus, “I’m on to you, I’m on to you…fuck you” and ‘Flat 11B’ is about all the freaks, and weirdo’s that inhabit their enigmatic lead singer’s flat complex. Their second album is scheduled for release soon and they deserve to be massive.

Another band with an imminent release is one of Ireland’s finest, The Dubtones. Several songs from that forthcoming EP get an airing tonight, and such is the confidence in the new material, the kick their start with a new track, that’s followed by ‘Tension’ the first of several from their excellent debut ‘End of Transmission’ ‘Cops are on the way’ taken from debut EP ‘One for the Road’ testifies to the fact they were writing exemplary tunes from the off. ‘Capture the flag’ and ‘End of Transmission’ are foot-to-the-floor, no frills, skilled punk rock.

The band expertly crank out various other numbers from their debut album in an example of superb, competency, and proof that when a three piece works, it’s a force to be reckoned with. The songs come fast in a barrage of boundless kinetic energy. ‘Get me out of this Asylum’ is another new one that’s followed by two or three more across the set, each track increasing the anticipation for that forthcoming EP.

End of Transmission’s ‘Give me Energy’ “is “like a kick in the head”, Radio Breakdown with it’s addictive ska rhythms is an anthem for improved music on the airwaves, “stop playing shit on my radio” and closer ‘New Alternative’ surmises everything that’s great about this band, a polished, slicing guitar intro, followed by rapid percussion and pulsating bass, in complete symmetry with Whelo’s exceptionally confident vocal, and “call to arms” lyrics.

Next up are organisers Paranoid Visions. They’re having a great year; with a career defining album that’s receiving abundant praise. They haven’t rested on their laurels though, and have been in a constant state of production, with a new Louder than War release ‘Rock N Roll N Revolution’ on the horizon, a planned album, dates with Steve Ignorant, and a schedule for 2013 that is filling fast with tour dates, both here and abroad,

The band enter the stage in silhouette to a backing track of ‘Austerity Crusade’ which is quickly followed by a thumping ‘On the Run’. Deko cuts a towering, dominant presence on stage, he moves his hands in an exaggerated arresting fashion, almost conducting the band with his back to them, while eye balling the audience. He sweeps, pushes, and pulls the microphone, leering at an enraptured, completely involved audience. He spits venom, and humour, by way of his affecting words. He leaves the stage briefly to allow vocalists Aoife and Sarah to take lead on ‘Sex Kills’ from previous studio outing, ‘Beware the God’. Both their voices have become more distinct, constantly evolving and improving; confident sounding and becoming more and more integral to the Paranoid Visions sound.

That sound is developing too with the inclusion of newest member to the live manifestation of the group, the very youthful looking Daniel Knowles, on guitar. Daniel was poached from the same band (Jobseekers) as other recent recruit, bassist Chris Burke. He’s comfortable on stage, having been embraced by band, especially guitarist PA, who graciously allows him to show his stuff.

Deko returns with a typical taunt to the crowd, “Can you imagine the amount of mutants this earth would have if sex didn’t kill?” More tracks from ‘Austerity’, and the impending previous mentioned LTW release. ‘Problem’, clocking in at under a minute, sounds magnificent live, brilliantly punctuated with Aoife’s “Yeh, Prick” at the abrupt finish. A further two tracks from ‘Escape from the Austerity Complex’ close the set, an exemplary ‘Don’t Let the Rot set in’ and ‘Bombsong’. They leave the stage to rapturous applause. Never waning, each time Paranoid Visions play, they manage to be as electrifying as the last.

The Vibrators have a difficult task following the previous three bands, but they’ll have no problems with this crowd. By the time they take the stage, there’s a fully fledged party atmosphere, and people are excited to witness the band’s first appearance in Dublin. As stated elsewhere on the site, the Vibrators no longer feature founding member ‘Knox’, who left last summer. The line-up now consists of original member John ‘Eddie’ Edwards, Pete Honkamaki and Nigel Bennett, who last week announced plans to finish touring with the band at the end of this year.

Pete Honkamaki is a dynamic, and energetic, front man, and the band maintains the energy of the night, and through their own set. Overall they sound a little faster than on record, and although it would have been good to hear them with Knox, they deliver a wholly satisfying best of set that includes brilliant versions of ‘Pure Mania’, Automatic Lover’, Judy Says (She’s gonna knock you on your head’, and ‘Sweet Sweet Heart. Deko Dachau, and a local punk DJ join the band on stage for some impromptu (uninvited) assistance on ‘Baby Baby’. Although, the band sort of looked for it when they asked, “Can you sing Dublin?”

The crowd are energized when we’re asked “how many of you want to hear more?” – has there ever been a negative response to that? For the encore wee are treated to (blistering) version of ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’, and a couple of covers, the crowd are going mental for the last few numbers. Testimony to the spirit, and all inclusive atmosphere of the room, as the band are finishing, photographer, and documenter of the punk scene Janer jumps on stage with some choice words on the Gaza conflict that’s been dominating our TVs and Newspapers for the last few days.

The Vibrators set was full on punk rock endurance, on a night that belonged to the support bands as much as the headliner. Each band executing a spirited performance, full of dynamism and spontaneity, that never lulled for a second.

Upcoming tour dates

  • Fri 30 Nov Ivory Blacks, Glasgow
  • Sat 1 Dec Citrus Club, Edinburgh
  • Sun 2 Dec The Three Tuns, Gateshead

All words by Ray Burke. You can read more from Ray on LTW here.

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