March 6th, 2013
“The last time we played here two years ago there were a few people,” says Ally Dickaty laughing in a completely sold out Barfly; the supercool historic venue in Camden in which bands like Blur and Libertines – to name some – have taken their first steps.
Climbing the dark crowded staircase, the smell of old black wood and beers wasted to the floor is the perfect business card for this kind of concert. The closer I get to the entrance of the concert hall, the more I feel attracted by the sound of Marshall and Fender amplifiers screaming and being literally invested by the sound of Virginmary. As soon as I open the last door, my ears are hit with the notes of “Just a ride.”
Ally Dickaty’s voice, sometimes bordering on scream, pierces the cloud of smoke wafting into the room. After a few songs, the trio is in a bathed sweat, as if they had been playing for two straight days. But the Virginmarys are used to this kind of performance. They know how to lead a stage and they know that the audience cannot wait to wiggle to the beat of songs like “Dead Man Shoes” and “Bang Bang Bang.” The expectations from fans are not, of course, disappointed as they put a strain on the wooden planks of the Barfly, which I have often felt bend beneath my feet, due of three hundred people jumping relentlessly, repeatedly singing the lyrics they know by heart.
But the ones who seem the most enjoyed throughout the evening are The Virginmarys themselves; with a devilish Danny Dolan behind the drums (several times he played standing, giving drum sticks such force that I wonder if he changes drum skins after every single concert) and Matt Rose on bass, his face covered by his hair.
The band did not miss a beat and keeps on hammering out rock music at its highest levels throughout the concert. Dickaty’s lungs seem like two industrial compressors surging with power supported by the incessant bass and drums pumping like pistons of a Ford Mustang working at full speed.
Some numbers Ally plays alone on stage, like “Stripped” which was packed full of pathos, with his colleagues sitting on the ground at his side and lights off, except for one on him. It perfectly broke the tension of almost an hour and a half of pure rock concert without compromises, proving that The Virginmarys deserve everything good that are collecting, at home and abroad.
With ” Ends Don’t Mend “, fittingly at the end, the guys lose themselves in a long jam in which Ally appears to this fan as a young Jack White, between shimmering dynamics and his voice that expands throughout the hall in a spiral of emotions; the only thing I could do was close my eyes and smile at the almost freeing feeling of listening to those last cathartic notes (from the greek katharsis, “purification”).
After the gig people seem not to want to leave, Camden Town welcomes the three hundred plus who slowly file out of the Barfly ready to continue to wander among the thousands of pubs in the alleys or on Camden High Road, crossing the bridge, ending up in Charing Cross or Leicester Square, or much more likely to be lost on some bus after falling asleep on board, still taken by alcohol and heel for the concert.
great review! i’m catching them at beat kitchen in chicago on the 14th and can’t wait to see them live