Live Review from Underground 97:
1. Shine a Light
2. Sleepers Awake
3. Rollercoaster Ride
4. Hide My Dreams
6. Shankill Brothers (Decemberists cover)
7. Soldier Jane
The somewhat daunting-looking Cicadas took the stage next, just as the last strains of Jilted John’s epic Gordon is a Moron died out. They began right away with the bittersweet Shine a Light (which you’d know is a newer song, if you’ve been doing your Underground reading), which opened with its mild, lullaby-esque calm, and moved into a bubbling, swirling, heavy-ass acoustic portion. The vocal duties were exchanged regularly between singer-guitarists Marcus and Kieran. This worked well, as they have the classic contrasting voices – Marcus’ deep, weighty voice set against Kieran’s higher, earthier pipes – the archetypal sea-against-the-sky-horizon vocals (as I like to call them) , allowing them to play off each other in terms of feel and texture. This was, happily, something they use in various settings across their songs. The sweet soulfulness of the harmonica added a lot of feeling and did wonders for creating atmosphere, which they ably changed from song to song.
Sleepers Awake began almost like Ballroom Blitz, but morphed into a Dylan-esque number with some cool drum arrangements. One of my personal favourites was Rollercoaster Ride, with its cynical take on various aspects of life suitably affirmed in the chord progression, which left you with a feeling of being unresolved and doubtful, and further heightened by the harmy. They certainly were very popular with the crowd, with people all around tapping feet and moving in time to the songs. This went for many of their songs, but Bacchus in particular could easily have been a cool soundtrack to a Lee Marvin film, as it strayed into cowboy territory, while being suitably intense to live up to its name (Bacchus being the Roman god of wine). The Decemberists’ cover had people singing along, as did the long, winding bassline that began Caliban. It was this epic-feeling song that ended their set, re-conjuring images of westerns, with requisite menace, (but without the annoying whistling), culminating in resounding applause and even whistles from the crowd, as they moved off stage.
Live Review from Underground 90:
2. Scavenger god
3. Jokers attack
4. The head that wears the crown
5. Hide my dreams
I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from the next band when I read their bio. A drifter who can play the guitar, harmonica, mandolin and sing vocals? But, can he do them all at once I thought? His name was Marcus and he was joined by Kieran who could sing and play guitar aswell. They seem to be the focal point of the band, especially as they write most of the band’s songs. The band also includes Gareth on bass and Malte on drums who joined the band in 2008.
The first song started off with a great bass line, and I loved it when the harmonica kicked in. Kieran sang the verse and then Marcus joined in during the chorus, which was quite catchy and yet familiar. As soon as Marcus stopped singing he reverted to playing the harmonica and the guitar at the same time. I suddenly thought that this song would be suitable for a Quentin Tarantino film. I could just imagine the whole bar erupting into a brawl and Cicadas continuing to play on stage while the fighting was going on around them. Luckily for me, that didn’t happen. But, when they finished their first song the crowd did erupt in applause.
The second song was of a similar style, but with a different beat. I tried to listen more closely to the words and I am not sure I got the intended meaning as I couldn’t make out the words. But, I felt like this song could have been about freedom or about tripping out. I was on the left-hand side. Why wasn’t anyone passing it to me? It felt like the song could go on forever… the beat… never ending… I was stuck in a trance and only the end of the song could snap me out of it.
The third song is the first song I heard the name of, it is called ‘Joker’s attack’. I found out later that this song was actually a cover of a Brian Jonestown Massacre song. Sounds creepy. I could keenly hear the mandolin start this song off nicely. This was a more catchy and pacey song that the audience could do a little jig to. I noticed the guy next to me closing his eyes, shaking his head and tapping his head in a daze as he listened to this song. Gareth on the bass was superb in this song and the vocal trills were also very exciting. The song ended with yet another loud cheer from the crowd.
“The head that wears the crown” came next. We were greeted by yet again another vocal trill at the start of this song. Yee-ha. It did fit their theme very well. It felt very country pop rock. In ‘Hide my dreams’ there was also another nice bass line to start the song and worked really nicely when it was joined by the harmonica. It felt like the intro went on for too long, I wanted to hear some singing. Then as soon as I thought that, Kieran started to sing with his husky country voice. His singing was a real contrast to his vocal teammate in Marcus.
The next song started off quickly with Malte leading from the drums. The people on the dancefloor were getting excited to this change in beat and up in tempo. Drunken dancing and shindigging was going on everywhere. This lead onto their last song, ‘Lazy Bar Fly’, which they announced was their best song. This song started of classical, then changed up into a jiving grooving song. I wanted to get up and jump around with the rest of the crowd, but I was too scared to lose my seat. There were so many people. Cicadas inclusion into Underground’s 90th show helped to make the night a memorable evening.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)
Click here to watch Cicadas playing their original song: The head that wears the crown!