Wait a minute, Cult Called Man and Featuring X are playing Whelans? In a slight re-tweaking of May’s gig, we’re celebrating the release of Cult Called Man’s new EP Mr. Wednesdae and tonight it’s Featuring X’s turn to provide top support. They’re two bands whose reputations are beginning to soar throughout the country and the past few weeks have been memorable for both acts. Featuring X landed a spot at Longitude, while Cult Called Man prestigiously supported Anton Newcombe and Tess Parks in the Sugar Club. No pressure then, eh? They’ve also lined up rising star Rosa Nutty to open proceedings.
Rosa Nutty’s set begins without too much fanfare and it’s a lovely way to kick off the evening. Her music is elegant in its simplicity and her vocals are delicately emotive. It’s a changing age for the music medium, and she has been raising money for her forthcoming EP Bunny on Kickstarter. There are a variety of packages available, and it’s a damn good way of doing things if you ask me. Going by this performance, it’s going to be a quality record.
Louth band Featuring X are up next. They’re a group whose live show betrays their relatively young years, as they’ve been writing and recording music since they were 16 and there’s a real confidence on display here again. “The Boat” sounds fantastic with its military drumming and echoing guitar, while “One Too Many Times” again shows off some driven lead guitar from Dara Farrelly. It’s the highlight of a great set, and singer Niamh Sharkey strikes an authoritative figure on stage throughout.
They also play their cover of Gossip’s anthem “Standing in the Way of Control”. With such an accomplished set of originals, it seems like a slight cop-out to end a set like this. But hey, that’s just nitpicking. If the track does anything, it shows that the band’s originals are, quite simply, vastly superior. Certainly no mean feat. Featuring X are simply addictive. The music is chart-ready rock, and in any decent musical society they would be bothering the charts for years to come.
Bothering the charts isn’t really something headliners (and the band we’re mostly all here to see) Cult Called Man should be too worried about of course. Okay, if we’re talking ideal musical societies then I guess they should be right up there too, especially with tracks like the stunning “Kaius Kassius” but you know what I mean, right? They’ve been circling the music scene since 2012 but it’s only been in the past year that waves have really started to be made. The transition from ‘some guys in a band’ to a genuine, bona fide, unique act has lifted them from the depths of mediocrity to within touching distance of ‘legends’ status. The downright delicious Shoot Me (It’s Just TV) EP released in August 2014 acted as the band’s call to arms, and freaks, geeks, and everyone in-between responded appropriately.
Their set is frantic, psychedelic, and simply triumphant. Lead singer Razmo’s voice is bang on form, switching between sweetly tender and a menacing growl when the situation needs. “Mr. Wednesdae” itself sounds great, and last year’s single “The Walkyr” rings out beautifully. The set is interspersed with some wonderful keyboards from Seph which add a touch of playfulness to the show – particularly on “Wickyr Mice”. As a unit, the band are faultless. Cult Called Man are built on joy and freedom, and are one of the few bands who can convert their live energy to their recorded tracks, and then transfer the quality of the recorded tracks to a monumental stage presence.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the gig is that, despite each track featuring a multitude of layers and instruments – nothing ever becomes overwhelming. There’s always a lot going on, whether it’s a bouncy bassline or a some sprightly bongos in the background. But it all works. Everything belongs. Nothing is ever out of place or unnecessary, and that’s a real testament to the group’s songwriting.
Long story short, this is a cult you really need to join. And flanked by two marvellous support acts, it’s the perfect evening of music.
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