Protomartyr – Apr 22, 2022 – Button Factory
What a night. Protomartyr returned to Dublin after a 4-year absence and emerged triumphant. In tow were under the radar Irish three-piece Oh Boland, who featured a new bass player and drummer, according to guitarist Niall Murphy. A cut above most support bands, they were pretty rocking, careering around the stage. They played Don’t Make It Easy and Cheap Things from their recent album, but seemed far more excited about their new songs, with the final one featuring Murphy indulging in a full-on, wonderful, guitar freak-out. It’s hard to fathom why this band hasn’t attracted more attention as they are something of an event in concert.
Protomartyr brought Kelley Deal along to accompany them on guitar, keyboards and occasional vocals, and she fitted in well with the group’s tight dynamic. They played songs from across their back catalogue, with frontman Joe Casey very much a focal point. His crumpled business suit gave him an incongruous appearance though it came in handy to hold his bottles of beer as he alternated between a low growl and an open-mouthed shout on Day Without End and Cowards Starve.
But it’s unassuming guitarist Greg Ahee who emerges as a key figure, his demeanour in direct contrast to the cranky squalls his instrument sprays across Protomartyr’s complex songs. June 21 exemplified this, Ahee’s thrilling guitar runs accompanied by Deal and Casey on vocals. They managed to dial the intensity down on the moody Night-Blooming Cereus but it was a moment of brief respite. After a new song, they barrelled through Pontiac 87 (complete with Kelley Deal ‘s ghostly backing vocals), reaching back to one of their earliest tracks Jumbo’s. They rounded off the set with the agreeable plod of Worm In Heaven, which already feels like a big song for this band.
After leaving the stage for a few minutes they returned to play The Chuckler, before finishing with a punishing version of Wheel of Fortune. The crowd left knowing they had witnessed something raw, uncompromising and memorable.