Wild Beasts, Frank and Walters live @ Sounds From A Safe Harbour – 17-20 Sept, Cork

The inaugural Sounds From A Safe Harbour festival took place this weekend in various locations around Cork city. Held over a period of four days and with a total of no less than 70 individual events taking place, it was always going to be difficult to get to take it all in so as usual I decided to focus on the live music aspect of this festival and in particular local artists.

Saturday afternoon’s Boats and Bites event was the first I managed to get down to and when I did I found numerous pop up bars and food stalls flanking both sides of the Port Of Cork’s dock. The Frank and Walters provided the soundtrack for the afternoon. Now, where do you start with the Frank and Walters? The Franks have been Cork’s Indie-Pop kings for over a quarter of a century. They combine an excellent back catalogue with fresh and innovative gig ideas, my favourite of which before this afternoon was when they had a marching band lead a procession of fans to their Opera House gig last October.

Today The Franks are performing on top of the naval vessel, the ‘LE Ciara’ which is currently docked at the Cork’s Anderson’s Quay. A mixture of new fans and a few very recognisable old faces gathered at the corner of the dock to hear the Franks belt out some of their greatest hits.
Over the course of the next hour while people sampled the various local produce on offer  songs like ‘Tony Cochran’, ‘The Parson’, ‘Colours’ ,’How Do I Exist’ and ‘This Is Not  A Song’ have both young and old dancing on the dockside.

The lads are at their quick witted best and as usual they have the crowd in hysterics due to their telling tall tales in an effort to shame one another either side of ‘After All’ their best loved song and local anthem. The event as a whole was a success, unsurprising as any event The Frank And Walters are involved in usually would be. The only surprise today was that the Irish weather held up.

Next on the list was Deady live at the Bodega as part of the Nialler9 free music trail. Cork City is now and always has been a hotbed of creativity and is home to some excellent alternative artists and bands, however one genre that seems to be neglected at times is Soul/R&B. One man who is bucking the trend and is making magnificent R&B music is Cork’s own soul brother number 1, Brian Deady. Coming to Cork city from Skibbereen in West Cork and not Motown as it would seem as times, Deady switches from original material to Doo Wop and Hip Hop covers effortlessly.

This evening Deady has a full band in tow consisting of an excellent backing singer, a drummer, a keyboard player, a bassist and guitarist. The crowd in the Bodega this evening is extremely large for this time of day and most of them are on their feet and dancing along to the soulful sounds coming from the stage.
Opening with the wonderful new single ‘A Darkness’, and getting through new tracks like ‘September’ and ‘Clap Both My Hands’ the 7 song set is over sadly far too quickly. The highlights of which are old favourite ‘Over Like MacGyver’ and a cover of the 90’s disco classic ‘Gypsy Woman’.

The task of bringing down the curtain on the weekend events was left to English Indie rock outfit Wild Beasts who played a midnight show at the Cork Opera House. Support on the evening came from the excellent Young Wonder. A Cork band who have been doing the rounds for quite some time now and are really starting to make waves on the Electronic pop scene.

The last time I saw Young Wonder they were a duo consisting of multi-instrumentalist/producer Ian Ring and singer Rachel Koeman who’s trademark onstage headwear is now almost as famous as her stunning vocals. Since then they have added  guitarist Colm O’Herlihy to the line-up and to my ears it is a very good addition.

Their warm up set tonight seemed to fly by and certainly helped the tiring crowd to stay on their toes while waiting on Wild Beasts. The set-list was dominated by their brilliant new album ‘Birth’ but there was time for a track called ‘Orange’ and an impromptu version of ‘Happy Birthday’ which was sang to Rachel following album title tract ‘Birth’. The highlight of the set was single ‘To You’.

It was well into early Monday morning by the time Wild Beasts took to the stage and some of the crowd were visibly beginning to feel the effects of the weekend’s festivities but they were not long waking up when hearing opening number with ‘Mecca’ from ‘Present Tense’ the band’s 2014 album.
‘Present Tense’ had a distinctly 80s electro sound to it and this was very evident throughout tonight’s performance.

Songs like ‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’, ‘Sweet Spot’, and ‘Palace’ in particular have an 80’s feel to them. In general the performance is a lot more up-tempo than I expected and the now large crowd in attendance are spending what little energy they have left dancing along.

The tempo does come down a little for ‘Daughters’ which is preceded by a dedication to the Syrian currently at the Hungarian border. This slowdown doesn’t last long as fan favourite’ Hooting and howling’ brings it right back up to speed. Wild Beast are in excellent form tonight, maybe it is because they are playing the final leg of the ‘Present Tense’ tour tonight which has seen them on the road since early 2014.

By the time they arrive back on stage for their encore the crowd are screaming for more and tiredness seems to be the last thing on anyone’s mind. ‘Wanderlust’, ‘All The Kings Men’ which is the highlight of the set and ‘Lions Share’ bring the house down and draw to a close what has been an excellent weekend of music in the city.

Words by Anthony Kelly

Photograph: Aidan Crawley