This post could very easily just be four words long…
“All Tvvins are phenomenal.”
However, I feel that would probably be doing a disservice to the quality of live performance that I was privileged enough to witness in The National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday night (13 April 2019).
From the first time I heard All Tvvins back in 2014 I was instantly taken by their music and loved the sense of invention that they seemed to be going for with every track. Both Conor Adams and Lar Laye seemed to be trying to meld the attributes that had made their previous bands, The Cast of Cheers and Adebisi Shank respectively such compelling listens before they decided to all go their separate ways. The live shows of the band have become some of the most talked about in Irish music circles, known for their outstanding musicianship and sheer energy. As exemplified by their set at the 2017 Indiependence Music and Arts Festival which would go on to be my live music headlight for that year.
Fresh from launching their second studio album the previous day, the Dublin based group took to their largest headline show thus far on Friday night, and from start to finish they looked completely at home on the bigger stage. Just To Exist (the band’s aforementioned new album) marks yet another period of growth and development for All Tvvins, as they have moved away from having songs completely dominated by loud guitar solos and aggressive bass and drum combos. Instead, we are shown a band who are not afraid to look at more mellow and relaxed vibes while still keeping that adaptability that was so prevalent on earlier singles – no doubt helped by having James Vincent McMorrow helping to guide their journey and their ideas.
But how would this new vibe transmit to a live setting? As it turned out, pretty much seamlessly… From the moment the opening bar of Hell of a Party rang out around The National Stadium everyone in attendance was instantly hooked and across the night there was a mutual vibe of energy and support between band and audience. This was one of the most accomplished and enjoyable displays of live music that I have had the pleasure of ever experiencing. For the hour and a bit that the band were on stage, there was something undeniably powerful about what Adams, Kaye, and Lewis Hedigan (drums) were serving up.
Maybe this was just coincidence, or a fluke of how their set list came about, but there was something very clever about the running sequence of the songs across the gig. Seemingly aware that some people in attendance would not be completely caught up with all the songs on Just To Exist, All Tvvins made sure to alternate between the newer and older stuff frequently meaning that the show remained fresh and moving a pace – something that other bands often fail at as they make the mistake of dedicating to much of a set to just new stuff.
Songs like Anything, Too Young To Live, and Darkest Ocean, were expertly balanced out by slower jams like Crash (one of the most underrated songs in Irish music of the last few years), I Heard You and My Future – which again prevented the showing from feeling monotonous or one note.
This was a masterclass in how to structure a live show.
Credit must also go to the support on the night, the incredibly talented singer/songwriter, Sorcha Richardson, who gave a delightful half an hour of a support set. Richardson was also invited up on stage during the show encore to perform No One Is Any Fun, on which she collaborated with All Tvvins on Just To Exist. A fitting end to what already looks likely to be my gig of the year.