Saturday, 25 October 2014


Whelan's, Wexford Street, Dublin - 25th October 2014
(Great little venue - take the virtual tour here)


Genevieve - intro
I was first introduced to Lucius by Jools Holland's "Later" TV programme on April 22nd this year. I had tuned in specifically to listen to Paolo Nutini but was a little underwhelmed by his live performances on the show. In contrast, I was completely blown away by the two identically dressed girls and the three guys who performed "Go Home" and "Turn It Around". I immediately looked online - "if they were on Jools, they must be on a UK tour" I thought. I was right, but I'd just missed them. They had played Stereo in Glasgow on the 20th April! Then they were off on a US-wide tour for 5-6 months. In fact it seems that they've been touring for about 20 months with little respite, so when I saw the Dublin gig pop up on Songkick I think I might have purchased the very first tickets.

Whelan's was completely sold out (just over 400 people) and the packed crowd had obviously enjoyed the support Lapland (see below) but were eager to see the main act. They didn't have too long to wait as Peter Lalish (guitar), Andrew Burri (guitar and percussion) and drummer Dan Molad took to the small stage to loud cheers. Peter laid down the guitar melody while Andrew and Dan started the unmistakable percussion intro to Genevieve. 
Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig then came on stage in matching red outfits and blonde bobs, to even louder cheers, and added to the drumbeats, before launching into their trademark powerful harmonies "ooh wa-wa, ooh wa-a". This is the band's standard live opener and it sounded quite different from the recorded version on the "Wildewoman" LP - much more explosive and really tight soaring vocals. They ended the track on a glorious Lalish guitar riff and sudden combined drum crash. Silence, for about 5 milliseconds, and the crowd went wild. This was going to be good, I just knew!

Jess tends to be the chatty one on stage and she shouted out "Hi Dublin - great to be back here" (Lucius played The Workman's Club in April 2014). The vocal crowd responded with big cheers.
Photo courtesy of Maja Smiejkowska
Tempest was the next track - a long intro and some glorious closing harmonies from all five of the band. Followed by Don't Just Sit There which heralded the start of the crowd singalong participation. 

Wildewoman, the title track from their debut LP was notable for the falsetto male harmonies, some wonderful guitar from both Lalish and Burri and more audience contribution to the vocals.

The band rattled through the rest of the album, with obvious enjoyment of the appreciative Dublin crowd. The live versions were just so powerful with much more energy than I remembered from the digital/vinyl versions. One of the highlight moments was a truly epic version of "Go Home" where Jess asked "Do you guys know all the words?" and holding microphones out, she and Holly allowed the audience to sing almost all the choruses and some verses.

Crowd singing almost drowns out Jess and Holly

There is no doubt that Jess and Holly are the main focus of attention on stage, and genuinely connect with the audience, whether they are on keyboards, drums or vocals (impressively, occasionally all three) and the 3 chaps kinda stay out of the limelight, but from the first time I heard Go Home I was really impressed with Lalish and Burri's guitar sound. Never overbearing, never drowning out the others with the guitar hero thing, they just add such sublime layers and beautiful riffs that complement the vocals. I also had not realised, from listening to the album, what a driving force Dan was on the drums. In a live environment I suddenly understood how much of the band's appeal comes from his percussive rhythms. 

Jess and Holly suddenly produced pint glasses of Guinness (I think they were offered by crowd at the front) and to the delight of the onlookers, proceeded to down a good quantity of each pint. They probably needed fluids, they'd already finished the water bottles distributed on stage, and the heat in Whelan's was intense. "We're feeling your sweat up here" Jess explained.

After an excellent rocking version of Nobody Knows How Loud Your Heart Aches and Hey Doreen, the girls took front stage and using a single retro looking dual microphone they performed Wonderful (a My Morning Jacket cover) and Monsters - both slow-tempo numbers that emphasised the quality of the harmonies and unison vocals.

Slowing things down a little

Back into full blown action the band then performed Turn It Around, everyone participating on vocals ... which then morphed into a couple of verses and chorus of the Whitney Houston song I Wanna Dance with Somebody.. end of the first set.

The audience wanted and expected more, and made a huge amount of noise. Clapping and cheering to start, and then chanting "One more tune, one more tune" until of course the band came back. Lucius genuinely looked like they were having fun and didn't want to stop yet.

Jess quietened the audience and said "OK, we're going to do a couple of numbers without mikes so you'll have to be a little quiet" and she and Holly jumped down off the stage, followed by the chaps armed with acoustic guitars and a single drum. They wormed their way into the centre of the crowd and formed a small circle. This was obviously a well rehearsed move, but it didn't fail to impress all the same, as they launched into a beautiful, poignant The Two Of Us On The Run. This was sublime stuff, and they were so confident in amongst the rough and tumble of the crowd.

When they managed to quiet the crowd down again after this first encore, Jess said "Thank you so much Dublin. After being on the road for nearly 2 years, this is exactly what we needed - we love you guys." 

They followed this with a Kinks cover 'Strangers'. Again heart-searchingly beautiful harmonies, lovely duelling guitars and containing the appropriate lyrics "we are not two, we are one". 

The band then gave their thanks to crowd, and while receiving kisses and claps on the back, they made their way, not back to the stage but off to the left where there was a raised area with a hastily constructed merchandise stand. There they stayed for another 20-30 minutes, signing album covers, posters, t-shirts and generally chatting with the adoring punters. 

This was a gig that I will remember for a LONG time. 

--- Setlist ---

Don't Just Sit There 
Nothing Ordinary
Go Home
Until We Get There 
Nobody Knows How Loud Your Heart Aches
Hey Doreen
Wonderful  (My Morning Jacket cover)
Turn it around
I Wanna Dance with Somebody  (Whitney Houston cover)

--- Encore --- Acoustic in middle of crowd.... 
The Two Of Us On The Run 
Strangers (Kinks cover) 

The support was: 


Lapland is the pet project of Josh Mease (orginally from Texas, but now hailing from Brooklyn, NY, where the Lucius connection came about). The self-titled album was released earlier this year and when touring relatively locally in the US, Lapland are a 4-piece band. On this occasion it's Josh Mease on his own ("too expensive to tour as support with full band" Josh explains).

Lapland - Josh Mease

Josh engaged well with the swelling crowd, introducing the songs as "this is a country song", or "this is make-out song" and most strangely "Anybody here affected by asthma? Well this is a song about asthma" Metal Lungs.

His guitar playing was excellent and he also made good use of loop-pedals to accompany himself both with guitar and vocals for several songs. The overall feel and sound, initially sparse with just Josh on guitar, grew to sound like a full band with backing vocals as the set progressed. I was impressed enough to go buy the CD from the man himself after the show. Sample some of the tracks from Lapland here 

There was the carnival-esque atmosphere of “Memory, the jazzy shuffle of “Overboard” combines melancholy, minor-key verses with a breezy, harmony-filled chorus, while “Aeroplane” and “Fountains,” both feature 3/4 waltz time signatures. “Metal Lungs” rambles along with a chugging rhythm, twangy guitars and a catchy chorus, and standout track “Where Did It Go” ups the level of looped backing to semi-band levels.

The overall impression was of songs composed with great care and attention, initially sounding a little superficial, but with deeper introspective tones. Imagine Prefab Sprout meets Fleetwood Mac (from their Rumours days) and you'll be fairly close.

--- Setlist --- (needs some work)
Drink Me Dry
Make out song ?
Metal Lungs
Medley - Overboard, Aeroplane, Fountains?
Where did it go


  1. Fine write-up. I think your enthusiasm shines through. I think I would probably happily run away with the shorter of the two - ?Holly, I heard a rather beautiful lilting reggae tinged song from these folks on radio recently. I think was Wildewoman.

    1. Jess Wolfe is the smaller of the gals, and also my favourite vocal-wise. If you search around on YouTube you can find some good vids of live sessions and acoustic stuff from when they started. They are supporting Jack White at the Hydro 18th Nov. Hope Jack is prepared to be upstaged by the support!