dEUS / Trixie Whitley – The Academy, Dublin – Friday 10th May 2019
On my first visit, Dublin seems to be a city that regularly throws me 90 degrees from my expectation. Which probably makes it the perfect place to see dEUS play ‘The Ideal Crash’ on its 20th anniversary tour. It’s a record which presents a seemingly conventional façade yet hides all manner of twists and turns behind that front.
Getting to see the show turns out to be a little less than straightforward too. We’d originally been down to see the band play on the Saturday at their second scheduled show but that show was cancelled “for logistical reasons”. Miraculously though Saturday’s punters were fitted into the allegedly sold-out Friday show. This would have been a disaster but for our habit of arriving the day before a show. (see also Blue Aeroplanes)
The queue to get in seemed to suggest that Irish dEUS fans were a rum lot as there a lot of teenyboppers mixed in with more typical, veteran dEUS fans. However, this particular curve-ball turned out to be illusory as there were two shows on at the same time in the venue – the teenyboppers never made it upstairs for dEUS instead going to the sold-out Academy 2 for You-Tuber/singer Alex Aiono.
The main venue turned out to be a lot smaller than its Glasgow namesake, with a sign going into the main room proclaiming a very precise capacity of 628. Very club-like in its layout, I doubt even half the capacity of the room is on the floor in front of the stage. Instead the remainder are on two different levels, a raised level around the (dance) floor and a balcony upstairs.
Our early arrival meant that we were able to take up position just behind the main floor to the right of the sound-desk. A prime spot, you might imagine, but not without its … risks. More of that later.
For some reason I had no expectations of support Trixie Whitley, so was pleasantly surprised by how good she, along with cohort Chris, was. The talented young lady opened the set with a moody number, providing synths alongside Chris’s percussion, but after that swapped her synth for a guitar.
The next three songs were effectively up-tempo rockers with Chris contributing laptop samples in addition to the drums. The penultimate number though was a ballad, Trixie and guitar backed only by the odd wash of synth.
Things were shaken up again for the final tune with Trixie taking over the drum kit for a more rhythmic piece with Chris this time providing guitar.
The duo certainly made a good impression both in terms of the quality and range of the songs. However, there was no merch, so a likely album purchase was missed.
dEUS took to the stage to produce squalls of feedback before launching into the intro to ‘Put The Freaks Up Front’. Having avoided spoilers for the tour, the appearance of three dancers on stage midway through the song, a nod to the original ‘Ideal Crash’ tour apparently, took me a bit by surprise, but added to the spectacle. The trio were to return regularly throughout the set, usually for the faster parts of the songs.
The audience were immediately onside and, to the satisfaction of many it seemed, Tom announced that the band were “purists” so they’d play the record in sequence. Which lent the set a predictability but actually worked out fine in the end.
‘Sister Dew’ hinted that all was not 100% right with the Barman voice, a fact he later acknowledged by hoping that his voice would remain on the right side of acceptable. It did but it also slightly undermined a couple of the tunes on the first half of the record, most notably ‘Ideal Crash’ itself.
However the show really exploded with ‘Instant Street’, the song’s climax extended (and speeded up) well beyond its recorded incarnation with the dancers pushed to the limit in the process!
Thereafter the second side of the album proved itself to be a surprisingly good fit to conclude a live set. After the chaos of ‘Instant Street’, ‘Magadalena’ provided a little initial respite before the climax of the song led into a fierce ‘Everybody’s Weird’. ‘Let’s See Who Goes Down First’ was then the perfect bridge into the album’s finale ‘Dream Sequence #1’. To these ears, at least, it’s a dEUS classic of any era and provided some genuine goosebumps moments to conclude the main business of the evening.
I’d never pegged ‘The Ideal Crash’ as a long record (although at 56 minutes, it really is) so I was surprised to discover than an hour had passed by this time. But I think I was still expecting that there was a fair slice of the show to come.
And there was as the encores produced more theatre, not all of it planned!
For the intro to ‘Quatre Mains’, one of the highlights of the show and the only post-Crash song of the night, virtually the whole band joined in the dance routine at the start but the stunning performance was a pertinent reminder that dEUS remain creative powerhouse.
That led straight into a mighty ‘Fell Off The Floor Man’. At which point a drunken punter levitated from the main floor in front of us onto the barrier and proceeded to attempt to balance on the barrier – on his back – for the entire song. Performance art or pain the arse? My money was firmly on the latter and fortunately he disappeared back into the crowd at the end of the song.
The final song of the first encore seems to have been the one point of variation on the tour and rather than the usually played ‘Nothing Really Ends’ we were treated to an audience requested ‘Hotellounge’. Result.
For the second encore Tom returned to the stage almost alone to strum the intro to ‘Roses’ – but he was shadowed by one of the dancers standing stock still right behind him. When the band joined in it was a powerful crowd pleaser to end the show.
It has to be said that, despite lasting a respectable 90 minutes, 14 songs felt a little miserly not least because the audience would quite happily have hung around for another 90 minutes if they’d had the choice.
Yet my abiding memory of the show will be that it made me wish I really could see dEUS far more often. Given that they only make the occasional visit to the UK and that these shows seem entirely restricted to London it may well mean be that we’ll need to take trips abroad to see them again.