This month saw the Hard Working Class Heroes annual celebration of Irish music return all across the city and as usual it did not disappoint. Taking place in a variety of venues, some well versed in housing independent artists, HWCH once again proved that this country is home to a large number of talented and diverse musicians.
The weekend kicked off for us at The Workman’s Club where, despite the horrific weather outside, a good crowd had gathered to witness the various bands ply their trade. Stand outs of the night included Princess a four-piece band with, among others, progressive rock and indie sensibilities, but these guys are anything but a simple rehash of old ideas. This band is loud, but in the best possible way, with catchy multi-layered songs all held together by the constant and varying beats being laid down by the immensely talented drummer. Be sure to keep an eye out for their new single which should be released in the near future as well as the already available EP Black Cat.
Next up was Cave Ghosts, another four piece band but this time one with a more vocally led sound. Singer Jen Connell has a hauntingly beautiful voice and uses it to great effect; juxtaposing it against lively and instantly likeable 1960’s pop influenced efforts. Honestly HWCH was already a success in our eyes for having included this band in the line up, they really are an act that everyone should catch if given the chance, and considering the fact that the song No one loves you like I do which the group debuted during the show has been rattling through our brains ever since we heard it, it’s safe to say this group has the potential to go from strength to strength.
Next up was Meeting House Square to see the much vaunted Ana Gog; a band making some serious waves at the moment and it doesn’t take long to see why. The vocals possess warmth and sincerity rarely heard nowadays where overly produced music abounds, not to mention that the musicianship on display when they take the stage is top class. Ana Gog list influences such as Radiohead and Bjork and they could broadly be described as an alternative offering; to do so however would be a great disservice, as they cannot be pigeonholed into one specific genre or category. Ana Gog regularly play all around Dublin and indeed the country and have recently announced a two week tour of India so be sure to try and see them before they set off.
Saturday was a tricky proposition as we had to cover several venues for the purposes of this review; first up was Bad Bob’s, a venue that has had more name changes than Prince but one which still serves up a decent atmosphere for a live show to see Let’s Set Sail. This group originally started out as a three piece but over time have expanded to five members and feature a male/female vocal partnership that works beautifully. Unfortunately technical issues cut the set short but what we did manage to see was suitably impressive to make us want to catch another show in the near future.
Afterwards we hotfooted over to Meeting House Square yet again, a thankfully short journey considering the typically Irish mid-October weather, to catch Sweet Jane a band that has been around for quite a while now and one we’ve seen many times in various locations over the years, this however did in no way dampen our enthusiasm as these lads can seriously play. Made up of four brothers from clan Paxton and an “adopted brother” Sweet Jane or Buffalo Sunn as they are now known are a big, old school guitar band and it comes as no surprise that they have been a regular on the Irish festival scene or that their music has been featured on home grown TV shows such as RTE’s Raw. We hope that the name change does not hinder this band and hopefully their November single release of Seven Seas continues the success that the group have enjoyed in recent times.
Last up on our tour of HWCH was Spies a five-piece indie offering that have been riding high since their single Distant Shoreline’s hit earlier in the year. Spies have a sound reminiscent of The National due to the singer Michael Broderick’s almost baritone voice, but yet again this comparison is only for the sake of giving you a rough idea of what to expect and in no way a full representation of what this group brings to the stage. Be sure to look out for latest single November Sun which has just been released.
Despite our best efforts we were unable to see but a fraction of the music on display, something we hope to rectify next time around, but if the acts we caught were any indication standards were extremely high all throughout the weekend. As usual Hard Working Class Heroes showcased some of the very best young, independent artists that this country has to offer and helps prove once again that Ireland has a thriving and exciting music scene hidden all around us, and we should all remember to try and encourage Irish music year round rather than just big annual events such as HWCH as unless these bands have a livelihood year round these events will eventually disappear from our calendars.