Hope is Noise, Jonny Rep & Hags @ Cyprus Ave, Cork 18 Sept 2015

Friday 18th September was the 8th annual Cork Culture Night and the city was chock-a-block with people flooding to the various free events. Cork Ignite, a project which projected 3D images on to the Cork College of Commerce building gathered and amazed a massive crowd around the Union Quay area.

However not everyone was impressed by this spectacular visual attraction as one grumpy frequent gig-goer found his usual car parking space had been taken up to facilitate the event. However his anger was short lived as he remembered that the good people of Cork Culture Night were also providing free gigs as part of their program and one of these free gigs saw Cyprus Avenue host 3 excellent local bands.

Hags were first on stage at 10:15 which was just a little bit later than the announced 9:40 start time due to the late arrival of their drummer. When he arrived he seemed unphased by the hold up and to his credit, (unlike his arrival) his time keeping on the drums was impeccable.

As for his bandmates they were made up of a bass player and 2 guitarists one of which was also the lead singer. With a sound what crossed over between Indie rock and maybe even moved towards grunge at times Hags were not long grabbing the attention of the slowly growing crowd. The highlights of their set list were a new untitled grungy track which was described with tongue firmly in cheek as a ballad, the excellent ‘Leave’ which I recognised from Red FM’s Irish music show Green on Red and a great song called ‘New Tides’. They wound up with an excellent song called ‘My Heart Will Go On’ and  got a great cheers when they explained that they were currently engaged in a lawsuit with Celine Dion over the title, I must admit I much preferred Hags version.

Next on the bill was Jonny Rep a 5 piece indie pop band who sadly do not make public appearances too often. Due to the nature of Culture night and with the Sounds From A Safe Harbour festival running concurrently the venue seems to have filled up and emptied 3 time since the first act took to the stage. After a great start with a song called ‘Spine’ Singer Pat Garrett moves his Mic stand down to the middle of the venue and without missing a note manages to shepherd anyone heading for the exit back into the gig. Jonny Rep showcased two new tracks tonight in ‘Whalebone’ and ‘Enemy’ and they both were very well received.

A cover of The Smithereens ‘Behind The Wall Of Sleep’ fitted in effortlessly with their own excellent material and suited Garrett’s voice to a tee. Jonny Rep  were in sparkling for tonight and songs like ‘24/7’, ‘Waiting Room’ and ‘Continental Shelf’ which was far more impressive than when I heard it on the radio all reinforce that. The highlight of what unfortunately was an all too short performance for me was set closer ‘Won’t You Agree’ which is one of the best singles to come out of Cork in a long time in my opinion and I’m sure I am not alone in thinking that as thankfully it gets a lot of airplay on both Green On Red and 96 FM’s The Green Room.

Hope Is Noise were the 3rd and final act of this Corkonian cultural celebration and with the accumulation of over 11 years of experience under their belts at this stage it would be hard to argue that they shouldn’t occupy the headline slot. Opening with a track called ‘Born again Friend’ it is loud and heavy from the outset and thankfully the room once again had filled up.

The vocals at times seem to show far more angst than the accompanying music does but when the two match up on songs like ‘Natural Selection’ and ‘In Case You Fuck Up’  then Hope Is Noise are truly at their best.  They finish with a song called ‘Slow Valve’ which does exactly what it says on the tin, a slow grungy build up to a frenzied finale which left the crowd wanting more as a triumphant Hope Is Noise leave the stage.

Words By Anthony Kelly