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Dublin Grooves To Jake Clemons

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Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

Rarely I go to a gig entirely oblivious to the music of whichever artist I go to see. I’ll usually at least know their biggest hit. But when said artist is the sax player in my all time favourite band, good faith alone sees me buying a ticket, and I’m glad I did.

As I myself was, anyone who buys a ticket to see Jake Clemons based on his E Street involvement will be quite surprised. The sax is there, but he’s a singer and artist in his own right and from his legendary front man  and mythological uncle he’s picked up quite a few tricks of the trade. Special mention has got to go firstly to Clemons’ support act (and indeed joint vocalist for some of the main act) Nicole Maguire. Hailing from Cork she told us how Clemons has taken a shine to her work and she is now on her second tour with him, well deserved for the quality of work she is producing. Walking into Whelans admittedly a little late and catching her mid song was a near TV moment for me, my attention fixed on nothing but the hugely impressive talent emitting from the stage. Watch her closely.

As for the main man himself, I’m afraid I have to start with a criticism. Not a harsh one I don’t think – and I am conscious of not criticising for the sake of it just because I’m on a good run of positive gig experiences – but if you ask me Clemons is singing in the wrong genre. Not that there’s a problem with his vocal abilities but I can hear in there somewhere that there’s a genre more suited to him. Just a notion, and opinions are like assholes and all that. Back to the gig.

It goes without saying that Whelans has an encompassing quality that finds you lost into the intimacy if whatever act you may be attending. When said act is Jake Clemons and a fine group of musicians who each and all are solidly invested in the communication of their message, one of hope, harmony and unity – things only elevate. Odd then that the stand out track for me on the night was one that likens a woman to a hurricane, arguably the hardest and darkest track of the night.

As suggested above, Springsteen fans will get mild touches of deja vu at a Clemons gig, with the tail end of the show featuring a Bruce-esque gospel preacher diversion. I’ll admit to initially being a little cynical towards this – trying a little too hard to be Bruce – but on reflection it is actually a comfort to see an E Street member out on their own, carrying the same spirit and message and the band. It validates it, not that it was necessary to do so. Clemons’ and company love doing what they do – including Dublin born bassist Lorchan O’Dwyer who of course got the obligatory huge reaction. What more can you ask for in a gig (and one for €20 at that).

Finishing the night with a band intro set to an infectious groove, followed by a bad ass instrumental cover of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” seeing as Saturday became the Halloween night out for most. Finally then came what seems to be turning into a staple of gigs these days, a special all acoustic performance by the entire group. Unlike most stage gimmicks, this kind of thing could simply never get old or feel contrived, giving the entire audience one moment of sheer and utter intimacy and encapsulation that caps off a show perfectly, regardless of how good or bad whatever came before was. If only this supposedly music loving nation could learn to shut up for these treats. In all, yet another shoestring night out with great entertainment in the city where it seems to be on every corner.

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