As the venue starts to fill slowly with a colourful smorgasboard of leopard print, docs and leather, it’s evident that this Glaswegian punk three-piece have captivated not only music-lovers and hipsters alike, but they have also lured the original punks out of the woodwork. Opening the night’s abrasive proceedings are Dublin duo New Valley Wolves (below). Whilst following on in similar vein to fellow duos Royal Blood and Death From Above 1979, their blend of rock/ metal airs more on the Metallica side of proceedings.
Stepping up from the one hundred and twenty capacity venue upstairs at Whelan’s in April this year, The Amazing Snakeheads now take their raw, passionate show to the bigger venue of The Grand Social. From the moment the band take to the stage, it’s evident that front-man Dale Barclay has found his confidence. Gone are the loud, colourful shirts of before and in its place a darker image suitable to the theme of the songs. Strutting up the steps to the stage and prowling across the platform, Dale stares out at the crowd with is trademark scowl, slowly unbuttoning his coat to reveal a bare chest. Clearly ready to power through a promisingly, powerful and sweaty performance – Dale kicks off with a seemingly tormented delivery; snarling and lip-curling his way through the night’s show. Theatrically living out every syllable and emotion with his arm-outstretched and his eyes intense, he prowls and paces across the stage and at times turning back to the crowd to face his Marshall amp as he furiously attacks his guitar. Apparently for Dale, going onstage is fight or flight and it doesn’t take long to figure out which of the two applies.
Second song in, Dale takes it upon himself to descend into the crowd. Previously admitting his surprise at the fact that people see the band as a violent and aggressive, he has proffered that they are a joyful live band. Judging from the fact that the crowd step back à la the parting of the sea, I would opt for a reaction of excitement laced with a touch of trepidation. By the time ‘Night-time’ booms from the amps, punters are clearly engrossed; screaming the lyrics back at the snarling frontman. Like a provoked fighter, Dale returns to the floor, prowling deliberately and accompanied by his mic-stand.
All the while, the rhythm section remain autonomous, providing the backbone and heatbeat of the songs, pausing once for a swig of Buckfast. With the band having undergone a reshuffle with both drummer Jordon Hutchison and bassist William Coombe parting ways in June, it seems that amends have been made since the emotional declaration on Facebook with long-time friend William rejoining the group. Previous drummer Jordan Hutchinson has now been replaced with twenty-two year old Scott Duff, who seems to have taken to his new role with ease. Considering this reshuffling, it does gives rise to the question as to whether this might affect the live band dynamic. Clearly, it doesn’t. Although missing from tonight’s performance, the lack of saxophonist Andrew Pattie wasn’t hugely noticeable.
Evidently ‘Flatlining’ is one of the highlights. Looking as if he is on the verge of tears, Dale screams with intense fervour, “No more lies, no more love, no more hate, no more hope”. The wonderfully brash Glaswegian accent gets its chance to shine on ‘Every Guy Wants To Be Her Baby’. Each song smoothly slithers into the following. Towards the end of the set, the pace picks up with the faster, repetitive ‘Here It Comes Again’. With hardly any interation with the crowd bar a simple greeting earlier on, the band loosen up and settle into their stride. Dale stretches his hand out to the audience and reveals a smile, whilst the usually dominantly statuesque William Coombe extends beyond his territory. With his eyes closed and possessing a steely look of determination on his face, Dale screams on ‘Memories’, “The honeymoon is over, There’s no fun to be had”.
For me, they are one of the most exciting live acts around at the moment; equal parts titallating, aggressive, captivating and raw. It’s a formula that certainly wouldn’t be out of place on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. Regardless of the fact that there has been a line-up reshuffle, it doesn’t appear to have hindered the live dynamic, with the set boasting an even bigger and bolder confidence than before. Whilst The Amazing Snakeheads have drawn more fans with this their second headliner show in Dublin, I’m still surprised that there are not more out in force. Let’s hope that they receive the break they deserve and come back to deliver their arresting swampy, punk on a bigger scale. Punk is not dead. Sinéad Ní Mhórdha
Photos by Shaun Neary. Check out his full set from the show below.