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Asylums, Olympia Theatre, Dublin

  • Published in Live


Rising stars Asylums are a dynamic four piece from Southend-on-Sea. They have recently  toured with Killing Joke and The Enemy and tonight in the Olympia is their last gig of the year and the final date of a UK tour opening for Northern Irish rock veterans, Ash.

This is a big production tour on the imposingly spacious stage of the Grande Dame of Dublin's theatres but Asylums are out setting up their own gear the moment Scotland's Amorettes finish their set.

It's their first gig in Ireland and they announce themselves with howling feedback giving way to chugging riffs and ragdoll flailing. They describe their music as ‘bipolar, manic distortion’ and it's a fair description. They are a striking proposition and not just because of singer, Luke Branch's  Richard Ayoade hair .

Lead guitarist Jazz Miell looks like a younger, punkier Tom Petty. His limbs contort and flail wildly between licks. There's a constant  gurn on his face as if the guitar is playing through his whole body. Twin curtains of blond hair windmill around as he leaps around playing in the air and on his knees. He's like the godchild of Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon and there are definite Sonic Youth elements to the guitar sound.

In contrast to the spasmodic performances of Branch and Miell, bassist Michael Webster is the  archetype of the effortlessly cool bassist. Like a young Paul Simenon, chewing gum and looking aloof, while drummer Henry Tyler pins down the beat and sings backing vocals.

The band slept on the floor of the ferry because the crossing was cancelled but you wouldn't guess from the energy of the performance. The Paris Climate Conference could hook these guys up to the grid and make an impact on climate change.

They are only on a short time, about 25 minutes all told, But the short songs and high tempo make it seem like they have played a full set.

Asylums are playing to a thousand people and taking it in their stride. Branch characterises Christmas spirit as "The misery of the Argos catalogue" and dedicates 'Missing Persons' to their employers back home who haven't seen them in work for a while.

They may not be back if this performance is anything to go by.

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