Live Reviews - Reviews

Jape @ The Woodworkers, Belfast


Going to see Jape for the first time in a while is always an interesting proposition, seeing as the lineup can often be entirely different from the previous occasion. Such is the case tonight – they’re still a trio, albeit with a different drummer from the Ocean Of Frequency tour, and Richie Egan is still front and centre of course, with Glenn Keating still his right hand man but things have still been rejigged, with Egan now on bass and sampler rather than guitar and keys, and Keating on electronic percussion and sequencer. It’s an interesting adjustment and seems to fit the mould of their current sound better than their previous configuration.

As a result of this new set up, tonight’s set mostly consists of new material from this year’s This Chemical Sea. While Egan thanks us for putting up with a barrage of new songs, no one seems to be complaining, seeing as he has just released one of the finest albums of his career so far. Being a free gig on a Saturday night in one of Belfast’s newest venues, the place is packed quite literally to the rafters, with people lining all the way up the stairs, and some unfortunate latecomers are turned away. It’s the busiest a Jape gig in Belfast has been for a while, and how much of that is due to the lack of entrance fee and how much of it is simply down to the buzz created by the new album is difficult to judge.

Aside from a run through of Ocean Of Frequency’s title track early on, we’re treated to almost the whole new album, and the tracks really come to life in a live environment, the bass and twin percussion forming the backbone while the picture is coloured in with triggered electronics that seem to swirl through the venue. While they also usually do more intimate guitar music very well, it’s not necessarily missed tonight as the electronic side has always been the more exciting element of a Jape gig. Opener ‘Breath Of Life’ sets a high, Caribou-esque precedent right from the start, and recent single ‘The Heart’s Desire’ is a particular highlight, with Egan and Keating trading off vocals in the chorus while the audience dancing begins in earnest. There’s a run of older favourites at the end in what feels like a victory lap of sorts, and both ‘The Oldest Mind’ and ‘Graveyard’ sound reinvigorated by the new set up.

The whole venue really comes to life with ‘Floating’, still being performed these days in the style of Prins Thomas’ dancier 2007 remix rather than the album version, which sounds huge, before closing with a triumphant extended version of Ritual classic ‘I Was A Man’, sounding as “wired to the fucking moon” as Egan claims they all are as a result of having about two hours sleep the night before. Even without a support act, it feels bizarre to be witnessing a performance of this calibre for absolutely nothing. Cathal McBride

Check out Sara Marsden’s gallery from the show below.