- Culture – 20 Mar 01 – By: Catherine Doherty
What a head melt. Never in the name of entertainment have so few been so diverse for so much Heineken. Where else on earth would you encounter a roadie getting locked behind a backstage fire door in the best Spinal Tap tradition, an Indie versus Glam debate and Benny from ABBAesque s revelation that he s jealous of Freida s fascination with Revelino?
The object of Freida s affection, Revelino frontman Brendan Tallon, has just raised his eyebrows as ABBAesque launch into Dancing Queen , the kind of look that says the kids of today eh? Mesner s Brendan McEvoy hovers, chatting, aloof. Under sane circumstances these guys wouldn’t be on the same planet as ABBAesque, but they re wearing it well, bless em.
Opening act, Donaghmede four-piece The Nude did their damnedest to triumph over a bizarre set up at Club LA. The stage is up in the clouds on the balcony, with the crowd left in the cold downstairs on the dance floor. The lucky few with double-jointed necks have the advantage of possibly catching a glimpse of bass player s socks.
One Two Skip A Few and the single Waiting Day are the best of a lacklustre lot. Hearing a little of Duran Duran’s Rio in a chorus was disconcerting.
MC Dave Fanning announces the arrival of funk-rockers Mesner, whose Black N Orange has lit up the airwaves and made the world a better place to live in, and suddenly the venue is chocka. Rumours circulate with a mix of concern and excitement that Brendan is a bit of a mad one . What will he make of the balcony? Will he do an Iggy and fling himself off?
Mesner take the stage as if they re going to war, the crowd are already intrigued. The explosive energy blast of Smile and the insistent guitar of St Jesus Uncle God complete with Brendan s appropriate ugh noises and a crucifix pose leave you in no doubt that here is one helluva frontman. He s alarmingly tall, skinny as hell, with a tight black polo neck just in case anyone was in any doubt about his lankiness.
The power-blast of teenage disillusionment that is 15 has Brendan singing nobody cares, over and over. I want to give him a nice big bowl of porridge and tell him everything’s okay.
The orgasmic Black N Orange oozes character with its trancy repetition and gushing bass and, as he stalks the tiny stage, Brendan becomes mesmerised with the balcony, peering over, leaning forward, poised to dive into oblivion, lost in the one-note bass line. He backs away towards the drum kit instead and 10 Angels comes to life. Veering perilously close to metal territory, its heart belongs in Donnington, but the stop-start finger-licking guitar is saved by the disenchantment of the lyric: Here we are again, trying to pretend. It s a shame the band are confined to such a small area; Mesner seem desperate to be unleashed.
It was like playing a gig on TV, says a sweaty Brendan backstage after, you re up there about 15 feet above the crowd. They got into it well, I could see them, but you still can t feel them. It was really good though, it s a great tribute to us that some people found our original music very, very good. I was constantly thinking about what the crowd were thinking of us, being up there.
He talks non-specifically about record company interest in Germany and elsewhere. The band are ready, now, he says. We ve had a lot of changes and we re understanding more what we are, where we want to be.
There s too many blokes called Brendan here tonight. As I say bye to Brendan, Brendan and Brendan from Revelino are next up on stage and two new songs are let loose live, so new they ve not even been christened, one being only a week old. The Beach Boys with slippers is one description.
Other new songs Wait On Me , Only One Alive and Head To The Pillow hint of summery stuff and the students interest is rewarded with Broadcaster s Radio Speaks and Happiness Is Mine . The sweet guitar of Step On High does its job, but the ba ba ba end just seems silly tonight, inane.
Singer Brendan Tallon announces later that he found it all a bit surreal but he accepts student union gigs are a more of a social event, with the emphasis being on procuring a shag rather than admiring a nifty middle-eight chord sequence.
He s chuffed with the reaction to Wait On Me : I was looking down going, WOAH! . There s a good chance that it ll be the next single.
When ABBAesque take off their waterproof mascara after the last Rollercoaster gig in Athlone, Revelino immediately lock themselves in the studio with new drummer Adam to record their third album, set for possible release in the early summer.
Aside from Bren s worrying revelation that Ciaran is going through a bit of a speed metal phase , Revelino s forthcoming long player promises to be decidedly uptempo. We like that second new song, the guitarist continues, the one without a name, there s something surfy about it: the keyboards add a new dimension to the sound.
With such a mix of bands and personalities on this tour, you d expect the odd rock n roll cat fight, the occasional tampering with a rival band s equipment. No way, laughs Brendan. We re carrying around some of Mesner s gear and everything. And it s not at all bizarre to be sharing a bill with ABBAesque. Usually after these college events they play a disco, so it might as well be ABBAesque, you know? Bren comes out as a fully fledged Abba fan, We ll be bopping away later. It s all good spirited.
Oh my God. Paul Wonderful, ABBAesque s Benny, is wearing a blonde wig. His white jump suit has flares with a life of their own and he s grinning broadly at the bladdered students who, two hours ago, were mumbling take a chance on me arse . Their indie ideals have at this moment disintegrated in Club LA s downstairs lavvies. If you listen carefully you can actually hear them giving out an abandoned sob. He spews the contentious revelation that he eatz muzzzli , and then steps back, drained.
Freida, looking radiant in her white mini dress with a huge gold lame belt, rescues her obviously emotional other half: Hello everybodeee, my name ez Freida. Say eet with me, FREIDA . . . louder. F-R-E-I-D-A. Bloody hell. The crowd scream her name obediently. Maybe their tutors should take some tips from this lot.
Waterloo , Dancing Queen , Gimme Gimme Gimme it s all there and the vocals and harmonies are spot on. Only Money Money Money was off the mark the ahh ahhs are painful, and the hilariously kitsch call and responzzz audienz participation coupled with Agnetha s dance lesson send the naffness factor into overdrive. Most poignant are the visible beads of sweat on Benny s furrowed brow as he concentrates on the impossible backing vocal of Take A Chance On Me . I could ve sworn he turned blue by the third chorus.
I have just awarded myself the Most Sober Observer Award for being amused by the drummer: his bleached blonde spiky hair, tight black vest and seriously chunky headphones are dead giveaways that he s been left stranded after the recent Green Day gigs, helplessly caught in a parallel time loop. Can you imagine being trapped in an ABBAesque gig forever and ever? No, don t.
The girls shimmy and the blokes thrust their pelvises it s perfect pop. Let s face it, at 1am surrounded by your best mates, what more could you ask for?
Crammed into a tiny dressing room afterwards, Benny agrees. His English isn t great, but he tries hard to get his point across between taking off his costume. It s funny, as the make-up disappears from his face, his accent gradually becomes dubious and wobbly too.
He takes my question is Abba relevant at the end of the millennium? as a personal insult. I think people like to dance, everything is so sad. It is required that we come back and we give them all this music.
Talks turns to the Spice Girls and Benny admits that one of his Spice Girl dolls reminds him of Freida the one we call in our language Slapper Spice .
The audiences on this Heineken Rollercoaster Tour are crazy, he continues, it is almost as if we were in Sweden, but I have to keep my eye on Freida because I think she likes one of these Revelino fellas.
I only have eyes for you Benny, you know that, reassures Freida.
Yes, but the eyes are not enough you know?
This shouldn t happen. Arguing in public is downright unprofessional. My bubble has burst and I may cry.
Later a de-Abbaed Paul Wonderful is concerned. Was that OK for you? I can do serious as well if you like.
Nope, I lie, it was grand.
The Heineken Rollercoaster Tour visits Horan’s, Tralee on Thurs. 19th Feb; University College Galway on Mon. 23rd Feb; The Gallery, Limerick on Thurs. 26th Feb. and the Southern Hotel, Sligo, on Wed. 3rd March.