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Emeralds and Magic Pockets

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EmeraldsLast year, the first planned Irish live date for Emeralds was cancelled due to travel disruption brought on by large amounts of volcanic ash being launched into the atmosphere. Not one to be defeated so easily, I secured a ticket for their performance at All Tomorrow’s Parties last December only to be scuppered by severe snow and ice, my plane was grounded and I was starting to get the feeling I was cursed when it came to Emeralds (though not as cursed as my experience with trying to see Wire live but that’s a whole other can of worms). When they announced another gig in Dublin, I was preparing for earthquakes, storms and possibly locusts but instead I got some sublime music and a feeling of glowing comfort.

24 September, Dublin, Ireland.

Magic PocketsPrior to Emeralds, Dublin’s own Magic Pockets warmed up the crowd. His one-man synth act was impressive in terms of nice equipment but underwhelming musically. Sticking rigidly to pre-programmed beats, the music seemed to be locked into position; what could have been cosmic was humdrum. The overall effect was akin to classic Goblin soundtracks but without any of the genuine emotion that made Goblin great. Magic Pockets was fine to have on in the background but he unfortunately left me cold.

However, cold is not a term I could associate with Emeralds’ performance. The Technicolor tones they employed on last year’s Does it Look Like I’m Here? have exploded into an even more colourful and melodic form. While they dropped a couple of drones into the set, the days of Solar Bridge and Bullshit Boring Drone Band seem to be gone. Where the Emeralds of old was more akin to Cluster, Tangerine Dream and so on; it is clear that these influences are becoming less prominent in the band’s collective vision. Shards of techno fall into the sweet beats and Mark McGuire’s frenetic guitar work leaves the likes of Manuel Göttsching trailing far behind.

Steve Hauschildt

John Elliott’s drum machine played a huge role here but unlike the music by Magic Pockets earlier in the evening, the drum machine was a slave to the group’s improvisations instead of being a tyrant. Elliott gave himself wholly to the music, windmilling his long hair and pumping his fist in the air like he was at a Slayer gig. In comparison, Steve Hauschildt was like a Buddhist monk behind his synthesiser as he channelled melodies and rhythms from the ether.

After 40 minutes of unrelenting improvisation and jamming, the music suddenly stops and the audience is left bellowing for more. The guys do not disappoint with a stunning encore of "Does it Look Like I’m Here?" which took the blueprints from the studio recording and blasted them into another dimension. As the music climaxed, Emeralds again jam on the brakes for the last time, leaving the atmosphere in the venue at its most euphoric. After all the set backs of trying to see them live, this performance proved that it all was worth the effort.

Mark McGuire


Last Updated on Monday, 26 September 2011 02:27  


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