by NIALL HEALY
Fred cost me a tenner tonight – I ill-advisedly bet a friend that the band did not have a science-related song. I was wrong. I’d forgotten the wonderfully titled ‘The Wondering Geologist’ off 2002’s Can’t Stop I’m Being Timed.
I only mention this as Fred were promising to delve into all four of their albums as they returned to the shores of the Lee for a hometown gig. It was always likely to be a suitably joyous affair. Over the course of their career, Cork’s finest have managed to develop a reputation for being tremendous fun live – on the back of this they can always count on a devoted crowd when they’re on their home turf. Natural bias aside, they’re in my opinion one of the most accomplished live acts in the business and they never fail to entertain. Tonight wasn’t any different.
Dublin five piece The Gorgeous Colours warmed up the crowd with a nice set that mixed tracks from their EP and their forthcoming album, their combination of pop-tinged ditties and soaring melodies got things ticking over nicely. Highlight of their short set was the wonderfully melodic ‘It’s ok to be normal’.
Before long the main event took to the stage. Bouncing into view with their typical blend of energy and stage presence, Fred launched straight into a set that encompassed most of their back catalogue highlights, and then some. This was as promised, one for the fans. There were plenty of numbers from the mists of their near 15 years plus of making music.
‘Moonjuice’, their first ever recorded track, was an appropriate choice and it got the place moving. The crowd lapped up every minute of it. They nearly lifted the roof with ‘Four Chords and the truth’, Jamie Hanrahan making a rare foray to the mike for this spoken word-ish belter from their second album. Frontman Joe O’Leary was clearly enjoying himself and he worked the crowd for all it was worth, the banter was flying.
Here were an act on familiar territory and dipping in and out of their musical history. It was a fantastically energetic and raucous affair. The boys even had a few ladies from the West Cork Ukulele Orchestra join them on stage for two tracks to add to the carnival atmosphere. By the time crowd favourites ‘Skyscrapers’ and ‘Running’ were aired we’d already had a conga line and an impatient demand for acknowledgement for the ‘girls from Sherkin Island’.
Acknowledgement was theirs; it was just one of those kinds of nights. There was a healthy mix of tunage from Fred’s back catalogue on display, it was great to hear forgotten favourites from Making Music so You don’t Have to were sitting comfortably alongside newer material like ‘Trial By Fire’.
Far too quickly the set zipped by and before we knew it the encore was done and dusted and Fred departed the stage leaving their audience sweaty and exhilarated. Playing your hometown can, as they admitted themselves, often be like playing in front of your relatives but there was no self-consciousness, stumbled lines or family arguments here. The Fred boys came to town and left the Pav conquered in their glorious wake.