It's clear that the Avett Brothers live are quite a different beast to the current recorded version. From the first bars of the first song they exuded a wired, punky energy that saw Seth, Scott, bassist Bob Crawford along with celloist Joe Kwan pogoing. Drummer Jacob Edwards remained seated but was no less enthused. The site of Mr Kwan jumping up and down while playing his cello was to say the least, somewhat unusual.
The songs were often delivered at a frantic pace with the drums and bass very prominent in the sound mix. As was the banjo of Scott Avett, it was the lead instrument along with brother Seth's guitar. Both attacked their instruments with vigor that saw strings break with abandon. There is a philosophical leaning in the recent songs but the merry stomp that was there for most of the set was the real driver. Before Mumford & Sons there was the Avett Bros.
There were moments that showed a more reflective side such as Through My Prayers from their new album The Carpenter. Here the twin acoustic guitars and sibling harmonies shone. But for the most part it was the faster songs that had the packed audience singing, jumping and raising hands. It was a predominantly younger audience - for the most part under forty and at odds with the age of the audience for most roots/bluegrass gigs except perhaps for the Old Crow Medicine Show.
This was the final night of a 3 week European tour and was the band's second visit to Dublin. Seth said that he was very happy to be closing the tour in Dublin. The talk was though kept to the minimum as the music spoke louder. They played just under twenty songs in just over ninety minutes on stage and left everybody wanting more. The set featured a lot of songs familiar to the gathered fans but was, naturally, heavy with songs from the current album. Scott also played keyboards and harmonica during the set which added some sonic textures. But the overall mood was one of celebration despite the songs having darker sides. There was an almost evangelical tone to the performance; lots of outstretched hands to the sky and bearing witness. On this showing The Avett Brothers show is dispensing the right kind of medicine to the masses.
Review by Stephen Rapid & Paul McGee. Photograph by Gareth Averill