It was a concert that wasn’t meant to happen but due to popular demand and a sold out Sunday night show, I was privileged to see Soda Blonde in action at Whelan’s in Dublin on Monday night, supported by The Junior Show, with their “last show of the decade”.
I’ve long been interested in seeing what Soda Blonde’s live show was like, and I wasn’t disappointed. But first I enjoyed The Junior Show, who had supported Soda Blonde on several dates of their Irish tour, and whose EP, ‘Maybe.Even.Great’ I am now privileged to own on CD. The Junior Show is a Dublin duo who cite such diverse influences as Iggy Pop and The Go-Betweens; while there wasn’t much evidence of Mr Pop (humour notwithstanding) it was certainly easy to see how they have taken inspiration from the legendary band from Brisbane. Who knows – maybe one day The Junior Show will also have a bridge named after them in their home town. Acoustic and sweet voiced the pair performed with good humour and a whole lot of fun – case in point asking the audience to buy their CD for €5 then when there was massive reverb and some worrying popping from the speakers asking the audience to buy their CD for €5 so they could afford new equipment.
The age range of the audience for Soda Blonde surprised me. For some reason I generally expect to be the oldest at a lot of the gigs I attend but I wasn’t by a long shot this time, and I suspect it’s because the group attract fans of music and not necessarily the often fickle younger fan (although younger people were also present in the audience). A lot would also have been fans of Little Green Cars, from whose ashes Soda Blonde have risen, phoenix-like.
It was observed by some in the audience that lead singer Faye O’Rourke resembled – and sounded like – Lady Gaga. I would go one step further and suggest that Faye is what Gaga would look like if she had been Irish-American and not Italian-American.
Ably supported by the rest of the band, Adam O’Regan, Donagh Seaver O’Leary, and Dylan Lynch, O’Rourke’s voice at times soft and almost imperceptible and at others strong and ferocious, was marked by a passion not unlike Gaga; feeling the music with her whole body she held the audience in the palm of her hands as she and the rest of the band led us through songs from their debut album, ‘Terrible Hands’, the title track of which she dedicated to the UK. It was when she dueted with O’Reagan, and also when she picked up her acoustic guitar that O’Rourke was clearly in her element – and we lapped it up, transfixed.
It was the final show of the tour and Soda Blonde didn’t hesitate to show how grateful they were to have the chance to perform to two sell-out home town crowds, all of whom clearly loved them, as evinced by the resounding round of applause at the end of the set. No encore was given but it wasn’t needed – we got what we came for and then some – we felt loved by Soda Blonde, even relative newcomers such as myself, and went away with songs earworming in our heads and hearts light and filled with the knowledge that we’d been witness to an incredible event.