Yo La Tengo – National Concert Hall, Dublin – Live Review by Killian Laher – 15-10-15
The plush National Concert Hall was the venue for Yo La Tengo’s visit to Dublin. Often derided as ‘record collector rock’ the band have built up a considerable body of work over nearly thirty years. They opted for two sets as opposed to a support act and then a headliner. Looking literally as if they had just come off the plane (they said they had!), they breezed onto a tastefully decorated stage, full of canvases containing modern art, to play what was a set of tastefully mellow rock.
Early on the band threatened to be upstaged by a fly, but they settled into their groove with the slow burn of Rickety. There were no noisy guitar histrionics from Ira Kaplan, he stuck to rhythm and whispery vocals, leaving David Schramm to steal the limelight. His clean guitar lines sounded gorgeous on the sparsely arranged material, swapping later on for lap steel, his musical skills were something to savour. With a set split equally between obscure covers and their own obscure originals, drummer Georgia Hubley took centre stage standing upright Mo Tucker-style, her ghostly vocals adorning covers like My Heart’s Not In It and The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love, the latter of which prompted debate as to whether it was “new wave… or goth” (it’s neither!) The whole thing was anchored by James McNew on double bass, who also treated us to his vocals on Stockholm Syndrome. They seemed to dial up a countrified Sun Studios style vibe, and on tracks like The Summer the fine dynamic between Kaplan and Hubley came across like Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra.
They kicked up a fine, simmering brew on tracks like The Ballad of Red Buckets, and Ohm. Typically their Velvet Underground cover was the ultra obscure Over You. Similarly, some song choices were a little too obscure for their own good, and at times the set felt a little too mellow, with perhaps one too many cover version. However, subtle slow-burners like Awhileaway, Our Way To Fall and a stripped down version of Autumn Sweater really worked, before rounding off the night with, as they called the ‘lullaby’ I Still Miss Someone. Although the heavier guitars were missed, there were few complaints on a night of some fine music. The band is certainly not for all tastes, and they can appear a little too self-consciously ‘alternative’, but they do a fine line in understated cool.
What Can I Say (NRBQ cover)
The Point of It
My Heart’s Not in It (Darlene McCrea cover)
Automatic Doom (The Special Pillow cover)
That’s What I’ll Do (Leonard Lee cover)
Friday I’m in Love (The Cure cover)
The Ballad of Red Buckets
Before We Stop to Think (Great Plains cover)
Radio Morocco (Sun City Girls cover)
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams cover)
I Can Feel the Ice Melting (The Parliaments cover)
Over You (The Velvet Underground cover)
Butchie’s Tune (The Lovin’ Spoonful cover)
Feelin’ Low (Ernie Chaffin cover)
Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind
Big Day Coming
Griselda (The Holy Modal Rounders cover)
Our Way to Fall
Cast a Shadow (Beat Happening cover)
I Still Miss Someone (Johnny Cash cover)