Review: Bipolar Empire Live @ Monroe’s, Galway (June 2nd, 2011)
The weather hasn’t stopped people from coming out tonight to see Bipolar Empire in Monroe’s in Galway. The Dublin four piece have been busy over the last year what with recording in LA with the legendary producer Pat McCarthy who’s worked with REM and U2 and Lance Hogan who put the finishing touches to their first album Feel That You Own It.
It’s clear from the start that this is a band that believes in the sanctity of the three minute pop song. They kick off with aptly titled Start the Show. It’s short and snappy in the rhythm section and is gently flushed with harmonies that are similar to Teenage Fanclub.
Many will be familiar with Tempomanic from a RTE promo reel. The band recently jammed with a member of Muse in Dublin. Comparisons have been made and they’re particular true of this number. With it rumbling drums and buzz-saw guitar it’s easy to see why it’s getting so much attention. Live it comes across heavier and more intense than on the album.
Bringing some Red Hot Chilli Peppers funk to proceedings is Playing With Fire. Lead singer Shane O’Reilly’s vocals have a soaring quality to them that are only brought back to earth when lead guitarist Mark Maguire, with ease and confidence, throws in a few slick guitars licks.
Their time in the presence of Pat McCarthy is evident in numbers like Trip Around the World and From the son as the harmonies sound like the best of early REM.
With no time to waste they move on to Open our Mind. It’s a pop rock anthemic with jangling guitar and a bouncing rhythm section. They’re pumped up and really enjoying themselves now. Not to over do things they take it all down a notch with the slow acoustic number; Why So Sad? which embodies their best trademark, the three piece harmony.
Their time in LA has infused things with a soft American vibe especially on Human Race. O’Reilly’s voice has a powerful but tender quality that could be mistaken for Jeff Buckley. As he moves through number like Smoking Joe and It’s Only Darkness he appears to grow with an unbridled confidence.
A surprise cover of I Want to be Adored by the Stone Roses brings a great reaction from the crowd who have now taken to the dance floor. At this point the place is heaving and a sweaty crowd are begging for more.
Saving the best for last is Feel That You Own It. Drummer Callum McAdam does a great job of nailing a solid beat and with O’Reilly’s vocals coupled with sublime harmonies this sounds like pre Joshua Tree era U2.
Tonight’s performance was certainly an ostentatious showcase of young Irish talent. Things can only get better for the boys from Tallaght. Watch this space!