All the pretty girls on a Saturday night…

fun. – The Academy (6th October 2012)

So sings Nate Ruess on the standout track of their début album, and so indeed it was on a Saturday that we, some pretty girls, went to see fun. at the Academy.


I’m not going to lie, before I went to the show, I wouldn’t exactly have called myself a fan. I had heard perhaps three of their songs; Some Nights, the aforementioned All The Pretty Girls, and of course, the song that you’ve no doubt heard as well, We Are Young. In my eyes, or, well, ears, will have you, they have pretty much gone under my radar. I suppose they’re just not necessarily the type of band I’d listen to on a regular basis, but nonetheless I was intrigued as to what the night was going to bring.

We managed to arrive at The Academy just as support band WALK THE MOON (yes, all capitals) were at the very end of their set, so I don’t have a great deal to say about them, other than the fact that their final song sounded like that hipster-synth-dance-rock stuff that we get from the likes of The Killers. Although, I’m not going to lie, since I can’t think of a more recent band than The Killers to compare them to, I probably shouldn’t be passing remarks… Are The Killers even popular any more? I’m losing my train of thought here, I digress.

Look at us. Pretty girls, Saturday night, geddit?

All of a sudden, the lights went down and a giant banner with FUN. scrawled across it fell from the ceiling; it was time for the show to begin. The fun. guys (so many fun puns) bounded onto the stage, welcomed by rapturous applause, and as someone who didn’t know their music particularly well, I found myself thoroughly enjoying myself; jumping, dancing and singing along as best I could.

The set was heavy on new material, and included a charming cover of On Raglan Road; although the effect of this kindly gesture was somewhat tarnished by the fact that a large percentage of the audience hadn’t a clue as to what they were playing. Despite this, I found Ruess to be an excellent front man. He knew his audience, how to orchestrate them, and more than anything else, his vocals totally took me by surprise.
I shan’t lie, I had a sneaking suspicion that the excessive autotune used throughout their recordings was a clever rouse to hide a blasé voice, but from the moment he began to sing, I was very much proven wrong. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that his vocal performance was the highlight of my night.

It turns out that Nate Ruess is not your average chart topper either, having fronted The Format for seven years, it seems that he’s been in this industry for a good decade now, and he really knows how to write a song. He performs with exuberance comparable to Freddie Mercury, and has a solid band behind him to keep things grounded. Their instrumental arrangements are wonderfully intricate, and they manage to translate superbly onto the stage, with multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dorst raising the bar with a signature combination of keyboards and trumpets.

The audience were enthusiastic for the most part, although the constant wielding of iPhones and similar apparatus was almost enough to make you want to throw your beer at someone (I say almost, because The Academy does seem to enjoy charging a premium for somewhat cold beer in a flimsy plastic cup, and you would never throw money at someone unnecessarily, right?)
But unfortunately, as is always the way with a band rapidly propelled into the limelight, there were certain moments during which a considerable portion of the audience were more than a little subdued, unsure of the lyrics and at what point to cheer, resulting in a somewhat dampened atmosphere. These moments were few and far between, however, and certainly not a reflection on the band itself, more the young audience that fun. shall have to do their best to enthuse before their fickle attention span moves on to the next “big thing.”

Luckily for fun., though, teenage girls aren’t their key target, I saw a lot of obviously loyal fans who clearly fell in love with this band long before the days of We Are Young, and honestly, I have to say, it was an excellent night. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and if fun. are back here in the near future playing a similarly sized venue, I’ll certainly be looking to find myself a ticket.
Have they managed to weasel their way into my list of favourite gigs? No, but hey, I’ve been lucky enough to see some spectacular performances, and they faced some stiff competition. On a final note though, fun. are a really great band, and if this is the route that mainstream popular music is leaning towards for the future, then you can most certainly count me in.

And just so it happens, fun. are indeed coming back to Dublin in April of next year. Tickets for their Olympia show will be €22.50 including fees and are on sale this Friday (19th October) at 9am.

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