Review by Damien Doherty for MPM
An Israeli band, an Irish band and a world-renowned guitarist walk into a bar….well actually six bars on this short Irish tour, no joke! Tonight is the last date on that roster at the Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill.
There’s a decent audience in the legendary venue considering the fact that this is the first appearance in these climes for both bands; as always an appreciative and receptive gathering of bonafide music fans.
The Dodies are a young garage rock duo from the southern desert of Israel. They released their debut album “It’s One Hell of a Ride” in 2020, and followed this up in 2022 with “Floating in Limbo” which was recorded at Wildwater Studios on Inch Island, Donegal. This is where they are currently residing while recording their upcoming album “Dreamism”.
The Midnight Preachers are bluesy rock ‘n’ rollers from Donegal, described by Classic Rock Magazine as “Rory Gallagher joining The Dead Weather in a biker bar in the American south”. They have built up quite a following in the past 6 years and released their maiden EP Desert Hymns in 2020, followed up by the singles Pusher Woman, Summertime and To the Crows, the latter featuring on the soundtrack to the film Erzulie. This year should see the release of their debut album Soul Food. Singer and Guitarist Eoghan MacSheain also owns Wildwater Studios and is recording The Dodie’s new album.
And that world-renowned guitarist you ask? Well it’s none other than Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal from Sons of Apollo, Art of Anarchy, Asia and ex. Guns ‘n’ Roses, not to mention a solo artist in his own right. Ron’s albums are diverse, creative and melodic; and crammed with frustratingly difficult riffs and solos. No stranger to these shores, the virtuoso axe slinger is a long-time friend of Eoghans and mentor to and producer of The Dodies. Phew!, so there you have the full back story to the show.
The Dodies noiselessly take the stage, this quiet won’t last long though. This two-piece create so much energy that they make Kansas seem a few musicians short. Evil Slime kicks off with a trio of songs from their sophomore album and those assembled immediately sit up and take notice. The Brain is up next, singer Yoni Avitan sings of embracing the darkness while insisting “I don’t want to walk on water, I want to be ok”.
Then we are treated to Science, a tale of logical vs religious thought, with clever lyrics and some crazy double time drumming from Ran Aronson at the finish. Ran is also responsible for the synth bass lines in the songs which he plays with his left hand, while he plays the entire drum kit with his right. Oh and he sings backing vocals too for good measure!
New song next, Falsetto, a vocal style prevalent in this and many songs. Yoni sings the lowest lows and the highest highs, but is always melodic. First song from their first album Boiling Point has Yoni declaring “Yeah, I don’t care, I don’t care” immediately followed by some sing along “Ooh, ooh oohs”, and next tune No Silver Lining continues the catchy hooks with a “Hey, Hey, Hey no silver lining (Resume your crying)”. Do yourselves a favour and watch the hilarious videos for both these songs. Focus is another new track and Yoni demands “Focus now!, Patience now!” in the verse while the tension steadily builds up to the chorus.
Things become a little softer with the tracks Messiah and Just a Guy, and the vigour builds up in the brilliant Dysthamia with it’s fantastically soaring flanged and delayed guitars. Unfortunately for us all it’s now the last song of the set. Alien is furious and vital, Yoni steps off the stage to bring the song to a close eventually falling backwards on the stage at its climax. What a show! What a band!. These guys deserve all the recognition they can get, songs sparkling with verve and originality, often addressing dark themes, but accessible to their listeners with a sing along sensibility!
So how do you follow that? Well The Midnight Preachers kick it straight into high gear with a trio of hard rockin’ tracks from their new album, Shiver, It’s Such a Shame, and Straight to my Head, which absolutely kicks ass. We are three songs and three guitars in, Eoghan having loaded up the van with the entire collection for the night seemingly. Pusher Woman features some thunderous drumming from Colin Kenny, easily the hardest hitting drummer in the country.
The Erma Franklin song Piece of my Heart, more famously associated with Janis Joplin is faithfully accomplished thanks to the amazing talent of singer and bassist Emer McLaughlin, who has such power, melody and range in her voice. Eoghan is back on vocal duties for Mexico, an infectious ditty with perfectly subtle harmonies from Emer, and a stunning solo.
Traces is a magnificent composition, a slow brooding ballad with smokey vocals from Emer, culminating in a jaunty up-tempo outro. Holding On blends intricate bass lines with clever guitar work and amazing singing.
Time for the very special guest, Bumblefoot enters stage left to rapturous applause, and we are treated to 2 G’n’R staples, Knockin’ on Heavens Door and anti-love song Used to Love Her, with accompaniment from everyone gathered. With ease he complements the band on original track Summertime, and then we are treated to a lengthy version of the Rolling Stone’s Gimme Shelter with tremendous soloing and duelling from both Ron and Eoghan.
The crowd call for an encore, and we get it in the form of Hey Joe, again showcasing the talents of the entire band. The night is rounded off in style with a cover of Thin Lizzy’s Dancing in the Moonlight to send everyone home happy. It’s been a tremendously entertaining evening, both immensely talented bands and the general consensus is that their return will ensure a much larger crowd than tonight, so keep your eyes and ears peeled!
Photography by David Stewart