18/5/18 Whelan’s Dublin
Review by Bobby Green
I have made no secret about my love affair with My Fellow Sponges over the last year, but seeing them live for the 1st time was very much like a 1st date for me. If anyone has ever tried internet dating you’ll fully understand how I felt on Friday night.
As I’ve written before, there is an emotional response to their music that’s impossible to ignore. It stimulates you and fills your heart with joy, but to see them live is taking that step into the unknown that you hope will lead to true love.
When listening to music from a band you truly admire, you are taken away from your normal reality and a joined reality then exists with your feelings and emotions and their music and lyrics, allowing them to become part of who you are. They then go on to help form your thoughts, feelings and emotions because their existence is part of yours, and they become part of your life.
But is this a false reality?
Like internet dating you could be in love with the words on the screen, the story, the idea of who what you think they are. You build a picture in your head, and that story becomes what you hope the reality is. And With a band so charming and as heart-warming, as My Fellow Sponges, my expectations of seeing them live had gone from ‘please just don’t be shit’ to ‘don’t make a fool of yourself if you meet them,’ before I had even got to the venue because I heard there is a bit of crowd interaction during their shows. Something I’ve never been keen on because I find the whole crowd participation thing a little contrived….
How very wrong I was later proved to be.
As with all memorable 1st dates the gig started with a shared embrace as their opening number encapsulated all in attendance with a diotic kiss so beautiful that you immediately fall in love. But hold on… back up the truck…. What about the personality quirks that you notice, is there such a thing as a perfect 1st date? That dreaded audience participation.
Donal McConnon doesn’t get you to simply join in, in fact I don’t think he does anything simply. Like all true great artists he makes it look so simple and natural, but there’s a fire in that mans soul that ignites a twin flame in others. And as he breaks the barrier between band and audience so beautifully we are all invited into the performance.
As he approached me, he saw fear in my eyes and simply smiled and moved on. But there were others who wanted to be part of this performance and their participation brought these wonderfully crafted songs to life in an experience that can only be appreciated live. As the audience flagellated themselves rhythmically with plastic tubes, you felt the beat of their musical hearts as you became an integral part their songs. Even with the simplest of participation, each song became a personal experience. Monkfruit Salad (track 1 from their stunning new album) cannot be heard now without thinking of the chicken clap.
With all great 1st dates there will always be moments to remember, moments you treasure and keep with you forever. And if you’re lucky, moments that will make you fall in love. And if you honestly do believe in love then you have to trust your heart when it talks to you. Ever since the cold hand slapped me hard across my senses I’ve fallen deeper and deeper for My Fellow Sponges and seeing them live has not only reinforced my belief that my heart is right but there are hearts and minds out there that connect with your own in such a glorious way that you can’t imagine life without them.
My Fellow Sponges make you feel like life is a beautiful thing to be experienced with an open heart and an open mind. Yes there will be pain, but it is transient, you are only experiencing pain, it will end, but not as soon as the Ed Sheeran fan thought…(you had to be there)
My Fellow Sponges Live are pure JOY JOY JOY!!!! Don’t just go and see them live, go and experience them live, you’ll walk away a better person.
May 25th Chasin Bull – Bundoran
June 7th Mountshannon Festival – Clare
June 29th Bru Bar & Hostel – Cork
For more information and future gigs