Slow Readers Club
The last time our paths crossed with Slow Readers Club, they were an independent band peddling their second album. One major label deal and three charting LPs later, they are headlining Dublin’s Academy and have developed their sound to suit the larger venues they are accustomed to these days.
We arrive early for Amy Montgomery. People were raving about her after her headline set at Vantastival in September. It’s a different gig opening for an established act when you don’t have your normal stage set up and lighting. We’re pleasantly surprised to see Nolan Donnelly, guitar player/producer from Mosmo Strange, take the stage to kick off Montgomery's introduction. The Northern Irish singer emerges in front of the sparse crowd but sings as if the room were full, dropping onto her back after the first chorus. It's a classic rock sound that manages to avoid the cliché-ridden pitfalls that can overcome such bands. Montgomery and Co continue to kick out the jams for 35 minutes of hard rock screamer mayhem. We make a note to follow up with their next headline gig.
The crowd swells ahead of Slow Readers Club. Tonight isn’t sold out but you’d be hard pressed to tell from the size of the crowd. They’re that indie band that becomes a dance groove band when they start playing bigger venues, and you won’t hear any complaints from this corner. Aaron Starkie’s voice fills the venue from the front row to the back of the bar. The band have had commercial success in the UK but have yet to make a mainstream impact in Ireland. Nonetheless there are hundreds of people here singing back the lyrics. It’s a noticeably older crowd here, suggesting a love of Manchester indie bands rather than a commercial influence. It's indicative of our globalised world but also of Ireland’s close links with the UK. Slow Readers Club have the crowd enraptured from the opening bars of their first tune and manage to maintain it throughout the set.
Pairing SRC with Amy Montgomery is a bit of a mismatch. Montgomery’s set is all flashing lights, eye catching makeup, flailing dreads, and vocal acrobatics while SRC let the music do the heavy lifting. The stage is relatively undecorated, the lighting plain, and the band barely move. It’s the audience’s engagement with the songs that pumps energy into the room. It’s an approach one can respect but we’d rather the balls-to-the-wall, last night on earth performance that the support act gave.
The headliners break out the big tunes late in the set and the audience's response sakes the jelly in our eyes. The Dublin following is fervent as becomes obvious after ‘On The TV’. After the songs finishes, the audience sings back the refrain with such resolve that the band join in and improvise a new reprise for the tune. It’s a wonderful moment and the smiles spread through the room, on stage and off, culminating in a mass of applause and cheers.
It's refreshing after covid to hear the terrace style chant ringing out. It’s no surprise when the band have a decade of live experience and bring it all to bear on a foreign audience that has been starved of their presence for at least three years. It's probably only covid that has restricted this band to a venue the size of the Academy. It would be no surprise to see them opening arena tours very soon. Check out their tunes and catch them while they’re affordable and hungry.