Monday 23 January 2023

Powder House - Dublin Workman's Cellar - 19th January 2023

Hailing from the West Coast of Ireland are Powder House. A three-piece folk, alternative, indie rock band who are threatening to create a stir in 2023. Ahead of The Murder Capital's launch shows for Gigi's Recovery in Dublin, Jason Wynne stumbled across Mayo’s next big thing at the Workman’s Cellar one bitterly cold evening where they played in celebration of the release that day of new single My Corner. 

Formed under another guise in 2016 the band burnt out after a short space of time but they reignited their passion to create music a couple of years later and here they are in 2023 on the verge of exploding into something much bigger both in Ireland and the United Kingdom. 

The band’s music and persona very much reflects the rugged landscapes they hail from. Dark, mysterious, battered and bruised just like the climate but when they weather the storm there’s a beauty, there’s light and there’s positivity from conquering the elements that test your mettle.

Tonight’s twelve song performance showcases a band with a confident, anthemic sound that engulfs the intimate surroundings and delights a vociferous audience who show their appreciation throughout the forty five minute set.

The Castlebar trio enter the stage dressed all in black opening with Intro Song and it’s obvious from the outset they look and sound seriously good. You sense a lot of power and tenacity from the instrumental providing a reassuring sonic expression.

The band are then accompanied by a fourth member on guitar for the next five songs creating a sonic landscape of distorted guitars, beautiful melodies and equally bleak devastating choruses before returning to the three piece they are renowned for while still retaining that blistering, exhilarating, crescendo of noise as a trio.

Conor O'Shea (lead vocal and guitars) shines like a beacon of light, attracting the audience through the storm of noise with an impressive, emotive, vocal range throughout the whole set. Commanding your attention at all times he finds time for some light hearted craic in between stories of love and loss. 

Slinging the bass is Brian McHale. One minute a pulsating heartbeat, the next a mellow meandering trail of winding twists and turns. Deep and thunderous when portraying the angst and energy but also expansive and powerful during the sombre and solemn moments.

Luke Dunne (drums and percussion) is tight and controlled when required but full of abandon too when the songs threaten to escape from their claustrophobia. 

Songs like The River are slow burners that hold the audience throughout while new single My Corner is a rousing, arresting and enthralling song that tackles the devastation of bereavement and loss. Continuing in the same vein of emotion and a sense of brooding is Winter Summer with O Shea declaring “She lights up the winter, Shines in the Summer”.

Crowd favourite Years is unsettling. Complete with harrowing, agonising lyrics that expose the vulnerability of modern day life “remember me on the darkest day” the song has soaring choruses and with each and every verse the uplift increases a few decibels accentuating the fact the struggle is real “It’s been like this for years”. 

There’s a strong archive of songs in the set with songs like Crashing Tides and Cold of December standing out as potential crowd favourites but it’s There You Go with its infectious, catchy riffs, chiming guitars and heart wrenching vocals that catches the ear. 

Ending with a spiky, angular guitar led version of Cocaine Wars - about the place they live and maybe the requirement to get out of there to avoid the pitfalls that keep people stuck in the moment - there’s a somewhat celebratory and triumphant end to a set that has given us a wave of emotions. 

Powder House are clearly a band to watch and keep on your radar when they come to a town or city near you. Their music is deep, dark and potent and although devastatingly bleak in parts the catharsis this brings us is worth the entrance fee alone. 

Powder House played: Intro Song, *Everything You Are, *The River, *My Corner, *Winter Summer, *Years, There You Go, Crashing Tides, Pimp My Ride, Too Right, Cold Of December, Cocaine Wars.

*Played as four piece 

Powder House support Hurricane #1 at Aatma, Manchester on Saturday April 15th 2023

Powder House are on Facebook and Twitter.


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