The Chapters Live at the Old Oak, Cork by Cian Corbett
I’d seen Dublin quintet The Chapters quite a few times in some very different venues; last year on the main stage of the Indiependence Festival, in 2007 supporting Cathy Davey on the ‘Silverslieve’ Album Tour in Cyprus Avenue and in 2006 in the Murphy’s Live Band finals in Whelan’s and each time they’d left me and the audience wanting more. But tonight they were in the Old Oak, Cork, a late night bar that plays host to finely tuned and nationally recognised cover bands. A venue where high quality tribute acts wow crowds every weekend. A venue where I saw Jerry Fish once scream at a customer to “Shut the F*ck Up!” when he heard talking in the audience. With original artists normally reserved for upstairs in Cyprus Avenue, how would The Chapters fare here….
The crowd that had gathered on a bitterly cold Tuesday night had already been suitably warmed up by young Mitchelstown foursome The Loaded Kings. These teenagers asserted themselves immediately and delighted a crowd that clapped and danced when instructed to with a performance so confident I nearly forgot they were the support act. (There will definitely be more to come from these North Cork protégés).
As the clock crept towards midnight The Chapters took to the stage and instantly reminded me why I was here by belting out 2007 single “Looking for Love”. This song is instantly recognisable from the guitar and wood block intro to the climactic 3 part harmony laden chorus.
Front man Ross McNally doesn’t give the audience a second to compose themselves before launching into “Juice”, taken from their debut album “Perfect Stranger”. Here we’re treated to their winning formula of retro 80’s synths, spikey electric guitars and 3 part harmonies so strong that when the instruments drop out we realise that the melody can stand alone fearlessly. But don’t get too comfortable, the chorus armed with bass snyths and guitar returns like a kiss with a fist. (Cheers Florence!)
While this winning formula which champions a Talking Heads meets Fleetwood Mac collage, The Chapters aren’t afraid to mix it up. Synths are replaced by solid piano chords, Ross changes to acoustic guitar and Drummer Ciaran opts to create tension using mallets instead of sticks for more atmospheric numbers like Black Room. But one of their strengths is they don’t stray too far from the formula and when you catch yourself singing back the chorus you’ll know why.
Chatting to the audience is kept minimal until we’re invited to sing the infectious guitar riff to 2009 single “Videotapes”. With pursed lips and pointed fingers the crowd duly obliges every time the riff comes along leaving the invitation to join in seem unnecessary.
The Chapters wrap up the night by thanking the audience for doubling in size since the last time they were here and judging from the rapturous reaction to the encore performance of The Boss’s “Dancing in the Dark”, the Cork crowd is sure to be doubled again for the next Chapters performance.
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