On this, the first night of Le Galaxie’s Irish tour following the launch of their whopper new album Le Club in The Academy over the course of two nights at the end of April, the atmosphere in the Roisín Dubh is whirring with excitement. This excitement is not that of going to see a concert however; the giddy punters don’t appear to be just anxiously anticipating the arrival of their entertainment for the night. Instead, it feels like the crowd are all guests at some gratuitous party. It’s all colour and laughter and anticipation of what the hosts, those cool lads who always happen to play good tunes and get people to loosen up a bit, will bring. It’s a communitive ambience that, perhaps regrettably, is not felt too often at gigs lately, being regularly replaced by the sense be that a band is merely ticking a box or providing a service, and that much of the crowd is only there to get the best photo for their Instagram.
The positivity is far too palpable for any such thoughts to occur tonight, however, especially once festivities get under way with tonight’s support act, Tipperary native Derek Ellard with the accompaniment of a bassist and a guitarist (“my… I don’t know what you call them – my boys”). Ellard’s unfeigned excitement to be playing tonight and self-depreciative and funny banter ensures that spirits do not wane as he works through tunes that, while having a definite folk basis similar to that of Frank Turner and The Frames, also feature plenty of variety with nods to the math rock happiness of Enemies or TTNG. The trio incorporate plenty of tasteful, raspy vocal harmonies reminiscent of Dry the River or Bear’s Den but with an evidently newfound fascination with all things digital the sound remains fitting to the sparkling, electronic theme of the evening – a point which Ellard reiterates as he warns the crowd not to shy away from the sight of his acoustic guitar. The trio leave the stage with a message of gratitude and equal measures of elation to the rest of the crowd with regard to the spectacle that is now only minutes away. While he still seems to be finding his footing in the way he wants to direct his sound, given time it is fair to expect exciting things from the endearing performer.
After a quick transition during which anticipation reaches near climax with the aid of energised tracks by Not Squares and Fuck Buttons playing over the speakers. The neon “Le Club” sign dangles above the stage like the entrance to a sleazy disco and Le Galaxie take to the stage, dressed in matching black shirts, donning toothy grins and radiating with ecstatic energy. The party kicks off with 2014 single ‘Humaise’ and frontman Michael Pope immediately takes off into his empowered, ground covering and downright sexy (yeah, I said it) dance moves. Throughout the set filled with tracks from Le Club and previous releases Laserdisc Nights 2 and Fade 2 Forever Pope, bassist David McGloughlin and keyboardist/guitarist Anthony Hyland traverse every corner of the stage, arms held high and bouncing about like the floor is on fire.
Favourites such as ‘Love System’ (with added saxophone solo) and ‘Midnight Midnight’ raise the audience to euphoric levels of joy, each member of the crowd eating from their hosts’ palms while being encouraged to clap along and raise their own hands to the ceiling, all to the relentless drumming of Alastair Higgins. What’s so clear here is that the members of the band are having just as much of a great time as every single person in the room, at times entering the crowd branding jam blocks and drum sticks, as if dancing among friends. High –fives extend into the audience amidst the non-stop cheering and chanting along to energised ballads ‘Heat City’ and ‘Nightcaller’. The new material fits excellently and gives further signs of a band who are constantly growing and honing their own sound, taking 80s synth pop and disco elements but ditching trite clichés.
Highlights from the new album include the pounding and passionate ‘Streetheart’ and the album’s title track. Energy levels are not allowed to be lowered for a second and Pope’s sheer presence and joviality when addressing the audience only serve to create a greater gusto in the room. The set ends with another Le Club track, ‘Put the Chain on’, giving us one final strobe filled symphony before the four members stand side by side for their “National Anthem”, the theme song to Jurassic Park. Jaws are picked up from the floor and blinking eyes recover from the dazzling lights as the band leave the stage having given us not only a superb gig, but one hell of a party. Eoin Murray
Photos by Sean McCormack