Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Frames @ Vicar Street, Dublin, IE [12/31/07]

So I guess I forgot to do a show report for The Frames' New Years Eve show in Dublin. Sorry about that. Completely skipped my mind. Probably has something to do with the number of pints I'd had to drink that night, and my own less-than-perfect memory of the show. What I do remember of the show was pretty great overall.

I find that, more than most bands, the quality of a Frames show is dependent on the surroundings. As I've said before, the magic of the Frames is how personal their music is -- even if you've never lived the experiences recounted in their songs, you instinctively understand the emotion behind them, and you rise and fall with the band as it plays on stage. Their shows can be absolutely revelatory in the right circumstances. Yet, when the venue isn't suited to the personal nature of their music, or when the crowd is filled people who aren't familiar with the band's music, it can be a very different experience.

The band's New Years show at Vicar Street regularly straddled this line between revelatory and routine (though, thankfully, revelatory won out overall). At times during the show, the band sounded as good as I've ever heard them, while at other times the band sounded like it was playing a song for the 1,000th time and couldn't wait to be done playing it. At times the crowd hung onto every note and often sang along to every word, while at other times people chattered among themselves too loudly as if they were simply in a bar rather than a concert.

I suppose that much of the incongruity was probably due to the fact that it was New Years Eve, and that this was a hometown show for the band -- while a large portion of the crowd was excited to see the band on a special night, just as many people treated it as a New Years celebration first and a concert second. And, honestly, I can't really complain too much. While I usually get upset when people talk through shows, it wasn't a consistent problem at this show, and you can't get too upset when people get drunk and talk-y on New Years Eve.

The best part of the night for me, as someone who'd traveled across an ocean to be there, were the few "rarities" that the band pulled out for the night, including "The Dancer"from the band's 1992 debut LP, Another Love Song. I may be wrong, but I'm fairly certain this was the first time I'd ever seen them play this in the close to 20 shows that I've seen.

At the end of the day, while the show definitely had its inconsistencies, I'm thrilled that I went. It was great to see the band surrounded by friends, family and longtime fans, and it was interesting to see the band play together at the end of what has been an incredible year for them (especially Glen). And, honestly, I'm always happy to be in Ireland, which may be my favorite place in the world.

Here's some video from the show that I just spotted on YouTube. If you watch both videos, I think you'll get a sense of the incongruities I was mentioning -- during the encore, the crowd is 100% into the music, singing and dancing along. However, during "New Partner", you can barely hear the band over the chatter of the crowd. Thankfully I was right up front so I didn't notice it quite as much as you do with the video. Some pictures I took at the show follow below the video clips.

Encore - "The Dancer" and "Where Is My Mind"

"New Partner" (Will Oldham cover)


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