Every few years, the mighty Stunning emerge from the bowels of County Clare, Galway and Dublin to assault the Irish people with their infectiously catchy, effortlessly cool and charismatic back catalogue of Hits that still need a good milking. Their career was sadly cut short in the mid-nineties but only after the band became one of the biggest indigenous groups this country has ever seen. While they didn’t look to astonish you with grand ballads like U2 or pound your face in like Thin Lizzy, instead they merged the country and music style the existed in every single dance hall in the country with a fender driven dose of rock N roll swagger and a wit and talent for story telling that only the Irish (and Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen and a handful of other’s) can master.
Tonight’s show at Leopardstown racecourse is a far cry from the normally jam packed audiences the Stunning normally command. They’re playing as part of the Bulmers Live Event that’s taking place all summer. At first sight of the stage and music area, things look a little more bleak than dodgy. As the races end and swarms of people march towards the exit, the Stunning arrive on and kick things off with Got to Get Away while people continue walking past the stage on their way home, with very few stopping to see the show. Large empty spaces with more children than adults are very evident around the front and the only thing missing to make this show a joke is a clown and face painting. Not that any of this bothers Steve, Joe, Jim, Derek or Cormac and the band carry on with hits such as Town for Sale and Everything that Rises.
After a few songs the crowd suddenly starts to swell thanks to a mixture of people arriving late and the racing crowd finally being able to get the pint they were waiting for. The blues driven Tightrope Walker ushers in the night time as the stage lights lift off to reveal that there are now several hundred people gathered to show give the Stunning the audience they need to kick things into overdrive. Head’s, December Sky, Mr. Ginger, Half Past Two see’s the crowd singing every word along with Steve before fan favorite Romeo’s on Fire sends the die-hards and interested observers into bliss.
Since the Stunning split, Steve and Joe Wall have been working hard on their new band The Walls and tonight the band decided to give one of their most popular songs an airing. With a teaser intro of Brewing Up a Storm, Steve and Joe play a stripped back rendition of To The Bright and Shining Sun with Jim on light percussion. The band re-join the brothers on stage for a cover of MGMT’s Kids, which many in attendance swear if better than the original, before closing the night off with a boisterous performance of Brewing Up a Storm, citing mass sing alongs’ as far back as the eye can see.
While it may not have been U2 on a stage the size of Croke Park or KISS with more pyrotechnics than..well, a normal KISS concert, it was everything music is meant to be, entertainment. Steve and Joe’s charisma mixed with the bands polished and perfected performance is just so enjoyable to watch live it’s hard to put into words. Unfortunately Steve announced towards the end of the show that this will be the Stunnings final gig for a couple of years so if you haven’t experienced them yet, you’ll have to wait.
At the end of the show, the band stayed at the side of the stage to sign autographs and take pictures. Was Tickets There too cool to line up?? Not at hope, we were first in line
Top Pic taken by Rob O’Donovan - http://www.bulmerslive.ie/bulmerslive_music_events_dublin.html
Picture Two is my poor attempt