Published on June 29th, 2010 | by Bryano1
Live Review: RSAG at the Academy
Drummers have it hard. Consigned to the background, they’re usually left to toil away in the shadows as their more glamorous guitar wielding or vocally gifted counterparts lap up the limelight. In fact, the most prominent recognition drummers have received in recent times is through a weird combination of a gorilla suit and a Phil Collins track on a Cadbury’s ad which says it all really. With the crowd having been warmed up by the understated yet immensely likeable 202s, Kilkenny’s Jeremy Hickey aka RSAG [Rarely Seen Above Ground] arrives on stage as the exception to this common ruling on drummers, taking his spot centre stage with his drum kit dominating the confines of the reasonably filled Academy.
The show in itself is certainly unique; backed by three large screens, Hickey blitzes away on the drums while pre-recorded material of himself on a myriad of other instruments, from the bass guitar to the bongo, is projected around him, to form the entire show and a virtual band of sorts. It is a concept which could easily have gone pear-shaped, yet it is done with enough creativity and ingenuity to succeed beautifully and the carefully sequenced artistic footage perfectly augments the percussion on show.
It isn’t long before Hickey is in full swing lashing through a set interwoven with cuts from his Choice Music nominated debut Organic Sampler and the recent follow up Be It Right Or Wrong. Though the drums are naturally the main focal point of the evening, it is a testament to Hickey’s talent that the entire picture fits together so well. This isn’t simply a little riff placed over a drum beat as an after thought, rather it works together as an integrated single entity, with the individual musical elements combining cleverly to supplement Hickey’s prowess on the drums. For such an original artist, there is a nagging tendency for some of the individual tracks to lack a certain uniqueness however and in particular the earlier Organic Sampler tracks sound a slight bit samey over the course of the entire evening.
However, it is worth bearing in mind that such an occurrence may be down to the grander, more explorative sound of the new tracks which makes them stand apart from the driven, more single minded route which Organic Sampler so often took. This new found penchant for the expansive is particularly evident on latest single The Roamer, a hazy 6 minute journey full of catchy riffs and wonderfully swooping vocals which serves as the evening’s highlight, successfully holding the audience’s full attention in spite of it’s length. As well as this, other highlights include the surging Stick To The Line, while Bad Seed is thankfully as tub-thumping live as it is on the album.
On an evening when the longest tennis match in history finally came to a close it is fitting to see an artist of such energy on show, with Hickey’s stamina particularly commendable as he thunders through the set at break neck speed. Naturally with a set up of this kind certain minor grievances are perhaps to be expected and most notably the vocals are at times lacking a certain polish and sheen that is usually found in a ‘normal’ band set up. To Hickey’s credit however, the passion and originality with which he performs far outweighs this and any other misgivings and the crowd seem content to exchange such sheen for downright originality, sending Hickey off with the excellent reception that such a bold premise, and the excellent delivery of it, thoroughly deserves.
Be It Right Or Wrong is out now.