San Fermin‘s self-titled debut album, which came out last September, is happily residing near the top of my favourite albums of 2013 list (in my head). I love its National-based, kitchen sink melodrama. Written by keyboard player Ellis Ludwig-Leone, vocals are provided by the depths-plunging Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye (who has seemingly replaced Rae Cassidy) over a cacophony of brass, with punctuations of guitar and drums filling in any gaps. It’s epic in scale. Live, San Fermin keep things widescreen. With Ludwig-Leone almost directing things from behind his small keyboard at the side of the Pavilion stage on Tuesday night, April 15, it’s impossible to take your eyes off the other seven members. The trumpet player and saxophonist battle with Tate and Kaye for attention. ‘Sonsick’ is their calling card, both live and on the album. The heartbreaking frankness of Kaye/Cassidy’s line, “Now I know it’s just another fuck cos I’m old enough”, gets me every time. Morrissey wishes he had come up with that heartbreaker. And then comes the grandiose whoosh of a tight group trying to prove they’re not just another band. Three new songs are played on Tuesday: ‘Give Into Love’, ‘Parasites’, and ‘Demon Lover’, which features the chorus “it’s gotta be perfect”. One can imagine that Ludwig-Leone has that mantra hanging over his bed at home. He promises that the tracks will all feature on San Fermin’s second album, next year. I can’t wait. The only misstep was an encore (I wish bands didn’t think they were de rigeur) consisting of a cover of Strokes song ‘Heart in a Cage’. San Fermin are better than that – and they’re going to prove it around Europe over the next month. Support came from the Great Balloon Race, whose own new songs also promise great things. If you missed GBR, they’re playing our Record Store Day/We Play Here weekender on Saturday. All pictures below by Bríd O’Donovan (Facebook/Tumblr)


The Great Balloon Race…………………………………………….

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San Fermin…………………………………………………………………..

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