Music review: Geoff Barrow and Beak in Dublin

Music review: Geoff Barrow and Beak in Dublin

Last year marked the 25th anniversary of Portishead’s Dummy. The album is as definitive a documenting of the mid-Nineties as anything by Blur, Oasis or ironic-era U2. But since then the group’s stalwart Geoff Barrow has forged forward with all the pace of a glacier creeping towards the sea. Portishead have released two further studio LPs the most recent in 2008. Who is to say if there will be another?

Yet far from disappearing down a rabbit hole of pop reclusiveness Barrow has undergone a surprising transformation. On Twitter he cuts a notably geezerish figure, more likely to bang on about Brexit or the football than to channel the pre-millennium angst that pulsates through Dummy’s veins. That slightly shocking matey-ness is also a feature of Portishead side project Beak.

Bearded and blokey, the trio specialises in machine-processed krautrock and mates-down-the-pub badinage. On paper, it sounds absurd that the tortured genius behind Sour Times and Mysterons would embark on a secondary career as the chinwagging captain of a jolly noise-pop three-piece. But goodness it worked at Button Factory as Beak spread their wings and unleashed a succession of irresistible art-house chuggers.

They had set themselves a difficult act to following by arranging for Lankum’s Radie Peat to open. She played an old murder ballad and turned You Are My Sunshine into a baroque dirge. It was astonishing.

Beak were impressive too. As per Krautrock tradition, the performance was driven for the classic 4/4 “motorik” beat, tapped out by Barrow at the drum-kit. Similarly, and in a very good way, songs such as Yatton and RSI suggested a fusion of Krautrock father figures Neu, Can and Tangerine Dream.

The teutonic severity was off-set by top class banter. Barrow and his bandmates Billy Fuller and Will Young (no, a different Will Young) plunged into an elaborate skit in which they read unkind comments posted under one of their YouTube videos. Barrow asked about Brexit (“terrible stuff”) and wondered who was staying around for bingo afterwards (he insisted there was bingo afterwards). Portishead it wasn’t. The room lapped it up all the same.

More on this topic

Máiréad Hickey: ‘If money was no object, it would be lovely to play a Stradivarius’Máiréad Hickey: ‘If money was no object, it would be lovely to play a Stradivarius’

Pink Floyd's Nick Mason: over the moonPink Floyd's Nick Mason: over the moon

Britney Spears shares video of the moment she broke her foot while dancingBritney Spears shares video of the moment she broke her foot while dancing

A Question of Taste: Róisín Maher, co-founder Finding a Voice concertA Question of Taste: Róisín Maher, co-founder Finding a Voice concert

More in this Section

Trend of the week: It's always leather weatherTrend of the week: It's always leather weather

Theatre Review: The Fall of the Second Republic at Abbey Theatre, DublinTheatre Review: The Fall of the Second Republic at Abbey Theatre, Dublin

REVIEW: The Murder Capital, Vicar StreetREVIEW: The Murder Capital, Vicar Street

Under-fives suffering lack of sleep from extended screen time, doctor saysUnder-fives suffering lack of sleep from extended screen time, doctor says


Latest Showbiz

Director-general Noel Curran released a statement to mark the European Broadcasting Union’s 70th anniversary.Digital giants becoming ‘powerful gatekeepers’ to what we watch – EBU boss

The Invisible Man, based on HG Wells’ science fiction novel of the same name, tackles themes of domestic violence.Elisabeth Moss wants to honour abuse survivors in latest film

Pasha Kovalev announced he was quitting the BBC One show last year.Strictly stars Pasha and Aljaz to reunite on stage

The pop star performed the dramatic ballad at the Brit Awards earlier this month.Harry Styles dons lilac dress in underwater video for Falling

More From The Irish Examiner