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I consider The Fat Lady Sings' 1991 debut album "Twist" to be one of the greatest all-time rock records.
HotPress Magazine, May 2005
The Fat Lady Sings
Vicar Street, Dublin
The last time The Fat Lady Sings graced a Dublin stage, people were smoking in the crowd, we were buying pints with punts and the Celtic Tiger had yet to get within an ass’s roar of Ireland. The first thing that strikes this reviewer when Nick Kelly (vocals/guitar), Tim Bradshaw (guitar) and bassist Dermot Lynch step onto the stage is that the 12 years since their last live performance have been kinder to the band than their audience. There’s a scary amount of Fairisle jumpers on display amongst the mainly thirtysomething crowd, who would look more at home at an upmarket residents’ meeting rather than a gig. The band, by contrast, look lean and lively, as they launch into “Boil”, the opening track from their second album, Johnson.
The trio are well up for it, augmented by some sterling sticksmithery from the always reliable Paul “Binzer” Brennan and old-school keyboard licks and 1980s dance routines courtesy of the immaculately coiffured Alastair Artingstall, while original drummer Robert Hamilton joins in for the two encores. The set is a mixture of well-known favourites and b-sides, perfectly complementing their forthcoming collection, The Fat Lady Singles And Opera Obscura.
“Fear And Favour” sounds as fresh and exciting as the first time I heard it at Seven Bands On The Up in 1989, “Behind Your Back” shows that they were years ahead of the alt.country revolution, while “Drunkard Logic” remains arguably the most beautiful evocation of unrequited love ever committed to record.
It’s incredible how resonant and relevant these songs sound after all this time. “Dronning Maud Land”, itself a distant cousin of “The Loneliest Ghost In Pere Lachaise” (from Nick Kelly’s solo album Running Dog), is as hauntingly moving as ever; “Be Still” can still raise hairs on your neck at 20 paces; and “Arclight” remains one of the classic Irish singles of any era. Indeed, “Show Of Myself” is the only track tonight where the laughter lines shine through the cracks in the band’s make-up. Everything else displays the rugged muscularity that comes from great songwriting, whether it’s the beguiling tunesmithery of “Twist” or the ferocious down-home knees-up that is the closing “Every Girl’s The Most Beautiful Girl In The World”.
This is much more than mere nostalgia, although it does serve to remind everyone present that The Fat Lady Sings were one of the finest live bands to grace our stages during that purple period in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Fingers crossed that their broad grins as they leave the stage mean that it won’t be another 12 years before we see them again.