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Concert review: The Cast of Cheers

  Wednesday 7th March 2012

The Cast of Cheers caused quite a stir back in 2010 when they released Chariot, a remarkably fully formed and intense collection of demos and early singles, for free on the Bandcamp website. The Dublin boys continue to delight and inspire live audiences, as they did at the intimate Lexington venue gig in Angel. It marked the end of what guitarist Neil has dubbed the “groundwork” maiden tour of the UK, promoting the band’s first single proper, Family, which came out on the 20th February.

Catch The Cast of Cheers on their maiden tour of the UK

“We generally get the biggest crowd response back in Ireland,” says Neil, wistfully recalling the time they were placed on the bill at the Electric Picnic at the same time as Aphex Twin, and still managed to fill their tent to the rafters.

London proves to be a tougher nut to crack, as ever, but the substantial gathering is soon won over – specifically, in the time it takes for opener Trucks At Night to dramatically switch from ominous krautrock stasis to all-out guitar assault. Family is dispatched early on with clinical professionalism, and single-to-be Animals, slows down the pace for a rousing, raucous singalong.

Throughout, the sheer complexity of the band’s arrangements continues to astound and bemuse – there is almost too much going on to fully appreciate. Neil, in particular, switching between orchestrated guitar loops, jackhammer synths, onstage acrobatics and even impromptu amplifier tech, all without missing a beat.

With music for the head and the heart, The Cast of Cheers is going from strength to strength – the plan for now is to knuckle down for a genuine full-length release in the summer and then, to quote Connor, “tour the sh*t out of it.” The band have lined up a UK tour supporting kindred spirits Blood Red Shoes in early May, but before that they head to Europe – a mooted stop in Hamburg in April has got them dusting off The Beatles’ Anthology DVD for tips. If tonight’s short but breathtaking set is anything to go by, come summer the continent won’t know what’s hit it.

The band quickly gained prominence on many critics’ end-of-year lists, thanks in part to an endorsement by fellow Dubliners and math-rockers Adebisi Shank. They haven’t looked back since they relocated to London, following a record deal with Schoolboy Error.

Their sound is utterly singular, with scratchy guitar loops ingeniously sped up to double and triple time over the most airtight rhythm section you will ever hope to hear. Lead singer and songwriter Connor, tells me he honed their frantic, glitchy aesthetics (think Battles’ Atlas on speed) by jamming with a Gameboy, and transposing the ensuing mayhem to a full band set-up. The wiry, anguished results sound something like early Bloc Party jamming with DragonForce and it almost goes without saying, sound utterly brilliant.

 Verdict: •••

Freddy Powys

[slideshow]

Watch The Cast of Cheers debut single Family here


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