Let the good times roll.

The Riptide Movement – Olympia Theatre (10th November 2012)

Saturday, 10th November 2012 proved to me that the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll is still alive and kicking! Sure, I may have dragged my poor friends into the bitter cold of the city centre hours before doors, but tonight I was taking no chances; I was going to be front and centre. Tonight was going to be the catalyst for a revolution. Tonight music was going to be snatched back by the people from an industry gone awry.

For The Riptide Movement, this has certainly been a long time coming. Formed in 2007, their journey has been one marked by sheer determination and hard work. Over the years they’ve managed to build up a devoted fan-base, and, never the sort to rest on their laurels, are ever improving their live shows. Defying the standard methodology for success, The Riptide Movement remain independent, refusing to hand their artistic control over to record label suits for instant, yet probably fleeting, fame and fortune. At a time when record labels seem to be crumbling, TRM are way ahead of the game; years of relentless busking, gigging and trading their wares is paying off, Ireland is finally taking note.

Following their sold out show at The Academy in March, I had a sneaking suspicion that The Olympia Theatre was going to be on the cards, and when it was announced a few months ago, well, I felt extraordinarily proud. These were the same guys who played outside Marks & Spencer in the depths of winter, all for the sake of getting their music out there, and it’s certainly paid off; people heard, and now they were here, ready to be a part of something very special.

As people began filing into the room, the inimitable Sive took to the stage. Somewhat timid and divinely honest, armed with a exquisite voice and half a coconut known as a kalimba, I think it’s safe to say that she enraptured each and every one of us. Her songs were fantastic, and the bizarre array of instruments were just bewitching! You can find her music here and on iTunes, and I’ll definitely be picking up her album in the next few days to have a proper listen.

Dakota 66 were up next, and having seen them open for The Riptide Movement before, I knew what to expect. After a few minutes it begins to feel like you’ve been transported to 1977 and you’re watching what can only be described as a watered-down version of REO Speedwagon. Whilst the musicianship flickers between all right to mediocre, there’s still something missing from that band. The key dynamics; the passion, the soul, it’s not there, and, well, perhaps it’s just me, but without those things, it simply doesn’t work.

By this stage though, The Olympia was pretty much full, and there was an overwhelming sense of excitement filtering through the audience; we knew we were in for a treat, and then, all of a sudden, the lights went down; it was time. As The Riptide Movement walked on stage to a deafening roar, their faces said it all; exchanging humble glances as they picked up their instruments, it must have suddenly hit home. 1,600 people were here to see them, and they sure as hell weren’t going to let us down.

The band kicked off the show with a thundering rendition of Warming Up The Band, the Head Hands & Feet track that they’ve completely transformed into their own, and from the first few seconds it was clear that the band were determined to play nothing short of the best show of their lives. They kept up the euphoric momentum with Cocaine Cowboys and Alive Inside, before launching into trad-turned-blues-rock tune The Rattlin’ Bog, an audience favourite, which had everyone singing along, or at least trying to sing along with the tongue-twisting cumulative verses.

Reno was next, and certainly a welcome addition to the set; I don’t think I’ve heard it live in a year or so, and every time I see it, it somehow manages to get louder and crazier, rocking the venue straight to it’s core and allowing peerless bassist Ger McGarry to take centre stage. It was then followed by the single loudest version of Hard To Explain that I’ve ever heard. I’m pretty sure that this was the first single of theirs I owned, and to hear over fifteen hundred voices belting it out together, word for word… well it’s a pretty surreal feeling.

Following this was Without You. It was the first time that I’d had the chance to hear it live, and the production on stage just exemplified precisely how far this band has come. Not only was the stage suddenly swarming with musicians – including a  five-piece brass section, four-piece choir, and Sive, welcomed back to perform guest vocals – but the animated video for the single was projected behind the band, and dare I say it, they’re starting to look more like professionals every day!

Next up was undoubtedly the most emotional point of the night for me. I’m going to have to say it at some stage, so here goes… I cried. Yeah, you heard me, I cried. Like an emotional imbecile, front row, with photographers and camera men ready to pounce, I cried. I’m not going to lie, it feels good getting that out there. Now, before you all start whispering about how I’m clearly unhinged, let me explain. The lights were turned down, bar a single spotlight, and I knew what was coming. In fact, it was something I’d been hoping for; Bitter Hands, solo, acoustic. Not only was this the début performance of the song, but to hear Mal perform it alone was simply mesmerising. The audience were totally hushed for the duration, and the final response was unbelievable. Tuohy’s rasping vocals, reminiscent of a young John Fogerty, though more musical, filled the Olympia; it was simple and understated, yet perfect.

Roll On Train saw the return of everyone’s favourite half-naked didgeridoo player, Adam Labedzki. He actually flew over from Poland that day just for the gig, and for that alone he deserves an honourable mention! Although he encountered some minor technical problems at the beginning of the song, he sorted it out and carried on, lending his atypical sound to the band, even if just for a moment.

A trio of signature audience favourites came after: Thieves In The Gallery, Shake Shake and Hot Tramp. The atmosphere was completely wild; I didn’t see a single person on the floor who wasn’t dancing or singing like an absolute lunatic! The tiered layout of the Olympia leant itself to Shake Shake perfectly as Mal assigned each level a chorus, and by God did we sing our hearts out. These three songs also let Rory Gallagher’s reincarnate, guitarist JPR Dalton, do his thing, and, somehow, he always manages to fall over. Literally.

In The Eye Of The Storm will always hold a special place in my heart; it was the first song I ever heard them play; the song that made me stop dead on Grafton St. and find out where on Earth that racket was coming from. That racket, of course, was mostly down to the protégé of Keith Moon and John Bonham, Gar Byrne. Gaining notoriety for his tumultuous fills, Gar isn’t the kind of drummer who hides behind his kit just keeping time. Oh no, this guy plays lead drums, and this song in particular plays testament to his on-stage crazy as he plays a tom drum with his head. Drummers, well, they’re a different breed altogether.

The encore was exactly how I’d expected it; the audience knew the gig was coming to an end, and  we weren’t going to waste a second. What About The Tip Jars was more ferocious and vociferous than ever before, but without a doubt, it was closing song, Keep On Keepin’ On which stole the show. Between the confetti, the cheering and the dancing, the band performed with every ounce of their being. All things considered, it was one hell of a show, and we let them know how proud we were that they’d made it this far, repeating their lines as they took an elated bow, singing them off-stage with chants of “Keep keepin’ on, I’m a-gonna miss you when you’re gone!”

So, if you were unlucky enough to miss the extravaganza, or like me, just want some more of the madness, you’ll be pleased to hear that The Riptide Movement have confirmed two more dates at the Olympia Theatre on May 24th and 25th of next year! You can find tickets for that here, with prices starting at €16.85, and you can also catch them all around the country over the next few weeks, with dates in Waterford, Limerick, Navan and Cork! Do it!

All photos © of Paul Mongan – Moat Hill Photography.

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