Review / Profile Music Group Showcase

Review by: Brian Herron

henrietta gameHarmonic indie-kids, Henrietta Game, may look like they just tumbled out of an American Apparel shop window, all skinny ties and fedoras akimbo — but they sure brighten up a drab gig.

They (Henrietta Game are a band, not a girl) played as part of Profile Music Group’s singer/songwriter showcase last week. And they probably deserved a better outing.

The event and venue were slightly miss-matched. The turnout was low and the majority of the gig’s audience was made up of mums and dads and girlfriends. Even though the Sugar Club can fill its booths pretty quickly, it still felt empty. Which is always a bad sign.

When the first guy on stage appeared with a harmonica attached to his head, á la Bob Dylan, and sang about his ‘feelings,’ disaster loomed.

At a showcase you expect acts to be unpolished. Its the whole point of going. The fun is in finding and act with potential, and ideally becoming a fan.

Eugene Donegan (he of the harmonica) has just released his debut album, produced by Declan O’Rourke. Ultimately his output doesn’t measure up to his patron’s, and despite a heartfelt performance the songs felt overworked and pedestrian. It’ll be interesting to catch the record, Little Apples, to see if the producer has squeezed more out of the songs than came out on stage.

Wearing stripy tights, Joy Booth sang terrible lyrics beautifully, but unironically. (Gems like “I like the sunshine/ it feels nice” made me feel old) Great voice, but altogether too sweet to be wholesome. Maybe she needs a couple of broken hearts and a heroine addiction.

Ruairí Coogan, did a reasonable job. Aided by an excellent rhythm section, he hammered out a fairly coherent jumble of funk, rock and grunge.

And then came Henrietta Game’s cellos, violins, xylophones and haircuts. I’m loath to enthuse, but I can’t shake the feeling that as a band they’re very nearly there.

This Dublin/Meath foursome has only been going for a year, but they should be filling Whelan’s. I don’t want to overstate the case; some of their material is a bit mixed, and they sound more exciting when they play live than their songs do on myspace. But a judicious producer could easily sort that out. (Some dodgy lyrics could do with fine-tuning. There’s some wayward stuff about angels and devils?)

At their strongest when they sing together, there are touches of Arcade Fire, Architecture in Helsinki Fleet Foxes and (maybe) The Magic Numbers. Occasionally more than touches, but there’s also enough charm, originality and whimsy that any closeness of style is easily forgiven — a cappella Lady GaGa cover, anyone?

Any band that reminds me of Final Fantasy/Owen Pallett is getting props. They deserve a bigger stage and they’ll get it. MEG is predicting turns as a support band for some major acts in 2010. They already warmed up for Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac fame last week.

See them now, so you can say “I saw them when…”

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