Deertick @ Whelan’s - 10th November 2018

Minus the Keyboards and Saxophone of Rob Crowell, Deertick have embarked on their current European tour and this stop in Dublin with the 4-piece comprising of John McCauley (guitars, vocals), Chris Ryan (bass, vocals), Dennis Ryan (drums, percussion, vocals) and Ian O'Neil (guitars, vocals), turn in a stellar performance in front of a capacity crowd on a Saturday night that has plenty of competition in other acts visiting the city this weekend.

Despite the fact that the band are playing across much of Europe over a 4-week period, the crowd tonight is dotted with fans who have travelled some distances from other countries to see the Dublin gig. They sing along to every song and their command of each line and lyric is very impressive to witness among the many smiles. Perhaps the fact that the gig was put in jeopardy by a major power cut, just after the support act had performed, only added to the unique atmosphere of the occasion. 

As the stage area fell into darkness, many thought that this was no more than a clever ploy to build up the anticipation and excitement before Deertick took to the stage. Not the case however, as the outage lasted almost 60 minutes before power was restored. The band had appeared to say that they wanted to play and that the gig would go ahead, but the longer the delay unfolded, the more people worried that the whole night might fall flat.

Once the difficulties were overcome, Deertick launched into their set (see photo) with an energy, intensity and power that suggested that they were on a mission to blaze through as many songs as possible before the curfew. They need not have worried as the venue is nothing if not a very relaxed place to enjoy live music and the staff were in no hurry to ask the band to leave the stage. Big applause to the patient crowd who remained good humoured throughout the power failure, even those who had travelled from abroad, as rumours circled that it was the U2 concert at the 3 Arena that had blown up the electricity grid in the city…!

Included on the night were tracks, Don't Hurt, Dream in the Ditch, Clownin' Around, The Bump, Easy, Me And My Man, Card House, Hope Is Big and the guitar heavy rhythms were cathartic as the superbly resigned vocal style of McCauley fought for room in the heady mix of sound and sweat. 

A cover version of the Pogues, White City, was especially well received by the crowd, while songs like Sea Of Clouds, Baltimore Blues No. 1 and Look How Clean I Am ensured that the pace never dropped as the ridiculously tight band twisted and turned driving rhythm into breaks of melody and quieter moments such as, These Old Shoes, Ashamed, Mange and Twenty Miles, ensuring that all seven of their releases to date were featured across the impressive set list. 

The final encore of You Are So Beautiful (Billy Preston/Bruce Fisher) was a fitting conclusion to a night of drama and intensity, not only on the stage and among the audience, but also in the unique circumstances that framed this exciting show.

A word also for the support act, Joanna Barbera, who played solo and was very well received with her easy stage manner and some interesting songs that no doubt had her supply of merchandise take a popular hit after the show. 

Thanks also to my new friends from Italy who were very welcome to Dublin for the show and who generously allowed me to take a photo of the set list, just for completion purposes, but also for any of you collectors out there who seek out such souvenirs!

Review and photographs by Paul McGee