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Witchcraft - April 13, 2008 - Whelan's, Dublin IR

By: Ken McGrath

An evening of old school, blues based, doom loving, Sabbath worshipping, rock is what Dublin’s been promised for tonight and that’s what’s being delivered. The new breed of retro loving, long hairs are here to show off their spells and skills, so first up there’s Gentleman’s Pistols, who simply adore the Led Zeppelin. Good shoes and Jack Duckworth from Coronation Street type vests may be the fashion with these boys (not to mention having a singer who’s leaving a lot of the audience with a mild sense of beard envy), but it’s in their hard rocking approach that they win through, the likes of “Sherman Tank” and the inappropriately titled “Comatose” getting the feet tapping and the bodies shaking.

Davana may look like they’ve kidnapped a Ramone and forced him to be their guitarist/singer but there's no simple gabba gabba hey punk here. With a big cosmic sound emanating around the room, their bassist and drummer are locked in tighter than the ends of the sticksman's Dali-esque moustache. A hint of Deep Purple seeps through but with big build-ups and rock outs, wig out rock and roll with their bassist (who seems to be have spiders for fingers) it’s a progressive, mind trip.

The Ramone they've got singing for them sounds like Ozzy Osbourne, his heavily echoed voice coming out from all sides. The keyboardist, is initially buried in the mix, but towards the end finds his way into the speakers, firing off whirly, buzzy, spiralling effects that acknowledge the beginning or the end of another seemingly, unstoppable building spiralling, space jams.

Finally come the headliners who round out this trip back to times gone past and the band who you can thank for inspiring Pepper and Phil to get off their asses and create that new Down album, the mighty Witchcraft. You can almost feel the crackle of magic in the air. They deliver a feel-good, rocking yet somehow doomy set that’s marred only by guitarist John Hoyles troublesome amp. They battle on though majestically, helped in no small part by vocalist/guitarist Magnus Pelander, he of the mighty amulet, whose crowd interaction, cheeky smile and stunning vocals make them band of the night.

It’s a fun and relaxed atmosphere that has the crowd feeling like they’ve stepped into a time machine. There's no pretension, there's no pit, there's just a load of people head banging along to bluesy, stoner, doom rock. And there's a random guy near the back of the venue playing a mouth organ. Excellent stuff.


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