Tuesday 21 May 2013

Mika Bomb at Dublin Castle - 17 May 2013

Mika Bomb pic by Martin Myers

The backroom of the Dublin Castle is a tiny dark space that has seen more rock history than a busload of geologists.

Tonight, there is a bill of five acts, as there is most days of the week. When bands 'pay their dues' by getting gigs under their belt then places like the Dublin Castle are where they pay them.

By the time that I arrive, the Black Dots are well into their stride. A girl plays guitar and sings, while beside her a guy stands and plinks away at a keyboard. They don't immediately grab you by the lapels, but they are perfectly enjoyable as a prelude to the long night to come.

Next up are Lord Numb, a three piece who are clearly a gig-hardened and experienced outfit. The main singer/guitarist is a really mean axeman. He's one of those players who can make his instrument do anything and tonight it's blistering rock all the way.

Lord Numb soon get the room stomping along to their set which is mostly original songs with the odd well chosen cover version of various punky standards. They finish with a rousing version of Jim Carroll's 'People Who Died' and as this is one of my all time favourite songs, they get two enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

It's becoming almost a cliché of these multi-band bills that somewhere in the evening there will be an appearance from a bunch of lads who are in thrall to the terrace anthems of Kasabian. Tonight is no exception and the exponents are The Beautiful Game.

Musically they are actually perfectly reasonable (as all these bands are) but the relentless swagger and machismo gets a bit wearing after a while. The singer alternates between pumping his fist and exhorting us to get into the mood and rubbing his stomach and chest in a manner that might be better suited to the privacy of his own home. “Your Bones” is a tune, though.

Next comes Rhonda, a soulful, torchy singer from Germany who has the pipes and R & B vibe of this venue's most famous alumnus, Amy Winehouse.

It's the perfect time of the evening for Rhonda - the crowd is happily drunk and in the mood for some serious soul. Her band swings, she emotes and everyone falls into a joyfully lachrymose reverie. Great stuff.

I first saw Mika Bomb back in the late 1990's and they have now reformed for their first series of gigs in more than half a decade. 

Mika Bomb were pioneers of Japanese all girl guitar pop, taking inspiration from Shonen Knife. The line up was always very fluid and we always used to joke that Mika Handa would hang around Heathrow Airport and recruit any passing Japanese girl who came off a plane with a guitar in her luggage.

Tonight it's as though the band have never been away. The guitars still thrash at one hundred mile an hour, the vocals still a succession of high-pitched screams and squeals. The Chipmunks play The Ramones.

Mika Bomb released one of the all time classic pop/punk albums in 'The Fake Fake Sound of Mika Bomb' and a lot of this gets aired tonight. 'Contact Tokyo', 'Hey Man' and ‘Heart Attack’ come blasting past and we all go nuts.

A brilliant show and a really enjoyable evening. I derive pleasure from every single act tonight (to varying degrees).

The Dublin Castle is a Camden institution - treasure it. 

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