Dublin’s psychedelic rock ’n’ rollers wow on home turf
Friday April 17th, Grand Social, Dublin
Following their excellent garage-psych/punk debut, Psych Ward, The Urges have totally embraced psychedelia, absorbed it and issued their own perfect strain; a true mix of UK and US genes. The song arrangements are so well-crafted that their influences appear for just long enough to allow a knowing grin to break before they reclaim them as The Urges’ own DNA. Their audience tonight gets an airing of almost all of the new album, which has recently been completed.
This band is exciting to watch. In the past, singer Jim Walters’ garage acrobatics may have disguised the fact that he’s a gifted guitarist. He has a strong, true voice and tonight a Fender Jazzmaster hangs permanently from his shoulder laying down the chords with Peter Smith complementing or cutting through with lead riffs. And those riffs spun from his Gibson SG evoke the best of ’60s UK psych-rock. Also visually striking is the impact of Jim and Pete sharing vocals. Unique for this gig is the appearance of their trumpet-led brass section.
They kick off with two new songs, ‘Face Made For Sorrow’ and ‘Now I See’. Thomas Darcy on Farfisa keyboard (actually a Nord) counterbalances with a strong US garage sound. When he adds his voice to the blend the trio’s accuracy in powerful harmonising is quite something. Jim takes vocals on his own for the excellent ‘Strangers’ with Pete’s ’66 Harrison guitar riff, before their last single, ‘Fire Burning’, appears in between two new and as yet unrecorded songs – ‘Satellite in A’ goes into an orbit parallel with that of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ before heading on its own trajectory. ‘Vibration’ gives us stacked vocals in the best West Coast tradition. Their Beck-era Yardbirds tribute, ‘Find Another Way’, follows and the audience is stunned. With Ross McGee so solid on bass it allows Ken Mooney to swoop around the kit driving the band hard at times but also blending jazzy touches to create space as the frontline of guitars and keys create an enviable psych soundscape.
Hard to imagine but the most laid-back song of the night is ‘I’ve Been Here Before’, the flip of their last single, before a longer version of new 45, ‘Passing Us By’, appears. In a short interlude we get a Mexicano trumpet a la CA Quintet followed by a Ray Manzarek-style organ run bookended by bursts of Forever Changes brass. Extraordinary. Only ‘Jenny, Jenny’ from the old repertoire gets an airing before the outstanding ‘Time Will Pass’, with its Byrdsian guitar chimes. The set finishes on ‘Echoes Softly’, the brass punching a ‘Reward’-model Teardrop Explodes onto the musical backdrop. We were warned beforehand that a time curfew would likely prevent an encore and so it was. This was a brave return, and mesmerising. On this evidence The Urges’ new album, due in late autumn, is likely to be a landmark release for them.
The Urges perform their recent single, ‘Passing Us By’