Spector at Whelans, Dublin

Spector at Whelans on May 29th 2012

Review by Aidan Cuffe
Photos by Kieran Frost

There is an impossible giddiness surrounding this gig. There has been a running in-joke at Phantom 105.2 where the words from Chevy Thunder have been replaced by “Hairy Panda”. This has garnered a cult following and as I have been known to do, I got caught up in all this by recording a video where I danced to the song in a panda suit.

Cue Whelan’s of a Tuesday evening, The Sleep Thieves have played a rather good lo-fi synth set to a disinterested crowd. The material is good, though perhaps the stage presence could have been more impressive, but when playing to a crowd who look as lethargic as this it must be hard to muster the will. Sorcha’s searing vocals blend beautifully with the harmonies, a vocal defying her petite stature. Their catchy beats proving a more than able and interesting support act. They are a band worth checking out on their own terms.

The crowd shuffles closer to the stage as Claire Beck arrives handing out #HairyPanda signs to help add some panda fun to proceedings. Spector joins the fray to a huge applause amidst waves of the HairyPanda signs. The band instantly acknowledge the signs and quickly kick straight into What You Wanted. The Jarvis Cocker-styled frontman Fred is the ball of energy that drives the Spector live show. He throws himself about the stage and gets in the crowds faces from the front of the stage, as he belt’s out highlights like Twenty Nothing and Celestine (their latest single).

The crowd interaction is a highlight; two screaming fans shouting they want to sleep with Fred. He responds by telling them to keep it modest. He describes a trip around town where he was shown the statue of ‘that black guy from the Boom Town Rats’ and where ‘that girl from Bewitched’ hung herself. The tongue in cheek jokes throughout added to the spectacle, even when discussing their new single Celestine saying “it’s available on iTunes,  or you could just google ‘Celestine mediafire’ and download it, but if you do I will hunt down and kill you and your family”.

It’s clear Fred was a born frontman with the gift of the gab and is only likely to grow in this position, as Spector undoubtably go on to fulfill the predictions they love to dismiss. Lay Low took the pace down for all the lovers in the room. This was the precursor to what was about to become one of the oddest moment of this reviewers career. With the band alluding that Chevy Thunder was next and the “Hairy Panda” signs now out in full force, the band invited Phantom DJ Claire Beck to introduce the song and explain why it is called Hairy Panda for those who are not regular listeners to her show. They announce that they will for one night only, change the lyrics from “Chevy Thunder” to “Hairy Panda” and Claire asks if the man who dressed as a panda can join her on stage. Claire drags me on stage as Spector kick into the Hairy Panda Song and thus begins a surreal moment where we both danced with the band as they played the song. Admittedly I wish I had access to the panda suit as it would be the only thing that would have made that moment better.

The band finish with Never Fade Away though admittedly my focus on the spectacle was caught up in what had just occurred. They wrapped up a show that grew in strength as it progressed to an absolute climax. It’s fair to say that it’s hard to be entirely impartial having been partly involved in the show, but there are a few things I do believe. The hype is justified; I think Spector will go on to be a huge act. They have a frontman who exudes the show-stopping qualities of an experienced rock act and he can only get better with experience. The band are solid; it’s not entirely perfect but there is a charm to that aswell. Go see Spector when they return before it’s big venues and festivals, bearing in mind that their debut album hasn’t even been released yet.

Oh and we couldn’t leave you without a video to help describe the occurance. So here is a video of Claire and Aidan dancing on stage with Spector to the Hairy Panda Song. Oh and below it is the Panda video which kickstarted this whole debacle.

Claire and Aidan with Spector – Hairy Panda

Spector – Hairy Panda video

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