Ham Sandwich at The Unitarian Church, Dublin

Ham Sandwich at The Unitarian Church, Dublin on Saturday 16th June 2012

Review: Aidan Cuffe
Photo: Owen Humphreys

When any Ham Sandwich fan is asked to describe why they like the band, I imagine their answer is quite simple. Ham Sandwich are fantastic live entertainment equally due to the quality songs, stage presence, banter with Podge and the passion they play with. I say this because it’s what has made me follow the band all these years. Podge tonight asked the question ‘Why do you keep coming out to see us?, it boggles my mind!’, perhaps this goes some way to explaining it.

The Unitarian Church played host to them last night for a unique show in terms of what you would be used to seeing in a Ham Sandwich live proposition. The Merciful Hour led us through some lovely acoustic tracks, as they warmed up the filling church. Support slots are a tough job in ordinary circumstances but opening in a church with all the pews full already must be a daunting task. A hush was called for as Ham Sandwich opened with St Christopher in the aisles, catching the waiting crowd unaware.

Each of the songs tonight gets a reworking, as Podge complains he had to “relearn all the songs”. Everything tonight is cutback acoustic with some gorgeous violin and vibrant trumpet providing extra dimensions to the tracks. White Fox and Animals are good examples of this and Click Click Boom starts half a beat slower before finding its usual pace as Hambo go up and down the gears, gently stroking new life into songs from across their releases.

The evening is a strange exercise in restraint for a band known for exploding into life on stage, from having a pep talk about swearing (due to young children being in the crowd) to the decision that it wasn’t ok to bring confetti canons and balloons into a Church. This restraint shows a different side to Ham Sandwich; the music that usually has you erupting into dancing, now serenades you in a gentle sing along manner. A young girl of maybe 6 or 7 years old dances along to the tracks, shaking her body and hair imitating Niamh in adorable fashion. The jokes from Podge are not only clean but even the band are amused by his banter this evening which he says almost never happens. To be fair he’s made an effort to circle the jokes around this house of god we ended up in and some were pure gold.

As we wound up this unique experience with Niamh hitting the high notes on a cover of I Feel Love (Donna Summer), The Naturist, Ants and a finale of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, we were suitably entertained and it struck me that a question had just been answered. Could Ham Sandwich be as engaging and entertaining without Podge bouncing around the stage, the dirty jokes and the confetti? The answer is a resounding yes, and it was a beautiful and relaxing experience.

Ham Sandwich Unitarian Church Setlist

St. Christopher
The Fog
White Fox
Long Distance
Click Click Boom
Never Talk
I Feel Love (Donna Summers)
The Naturist
Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush)

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