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Review: NewDad @ Trinity

Fresh off the release of debut album Madra, NewDad perform a stellar set at a sold-out Trinity

By Dylan McNally, Co-Deputy Music Editor

Given that this will be the third time in about a month that we’ve featured NewDad, it’s safe to say that here at Epigram, we’re big fans of the Irish band. So, the chance to see them at Trinity was definitely not going to be passed up. Nor did it disappoint. 

Almost two years since the last time the Galway band visited Bristol, a lot has changed in the intervening period. Now with debut album Madra in tow, this is a band that have developed both their ideas and sound. Support came from another hotly tipped Irish band in the form of The Love Buzz and having heard about them after recommendations from a few of their Irish musical contemporaries, I was intrigued to see what they were about.

With a song about being beaten up outside Sainsbury’s and a broken bass string for half the set, they provided energy and you couldn’t fault their infectious enthusiasm. Whilst their 70s inspired brand of rock didn’t always come off, when it did it was clear to see what the fuss, (or should I say buzz - sorry, had to be done) was all about. They might’ve not been the most sonically compatible of support acts, but I get the feeling this was more about showcasing more Irish talent rather than a night of similar sounds. 

The Love Buzz supporting NewDad | Dylan McNally

After that half hour of energy and enthusiasm from The Love Buzz, it was time for what a sold-out Trinity Centre had come for. Just as a side note, whoever put on ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ by LCD Soundsystem right before NewDad came on stage has my utmost respect. Not only because I love that song but because it really did lift the crowd after the lull of waiting around. But we weren’t there for the venue playlist. No, we were there for one reason only. NewDad took to the stage and ripped through Madra’s opener ‘Angel’ and followed it up with ‘Slowly’ from the band’s first EP, Waves

Madra is a departure from the dream-pop that characterised the band’s early releases and those sorts of clashes don’t always make for a cohesive set - the balance between old, softer material and their new, heavier stuff is a tough line to walk for many bands. But it was a balance that NewDad struck beautifully throughout the set. On top of all that, shoegaze bands don’t exactly have the best reputation for stage presence. It is, quite literally, in the name for a start and there’s a different between a band playing their songs live, and a true performance. I know that might sound obvious but it’s something many bands have failed to grasp. But really, I didn’t need to worry – all my worries were assuaged the minute NewDad stepped out onto the Trinity stage. 

NewDad aren’t a band to spend the whole evening staring at the floor, nor are they a band to worry about walking the line between old and new. There’s a confidence and assuredness about them that’s rare for a band that are supposed to still be “up and coming”. On the basis of this performance, however, it seems like they’ve arrived. That confidence extended to pulling off a stellar version of ‘Just Like Heaven’; a song that, in hindsight, seems tailor made for a band like NewDad to cover. And throughout, they were a band in complete control. Almost. They couldn’t control everything.

A call from the band for more energy from the crowd was met with the response of someone shouting, “let’s get rowdy”. And that they did. It might be a fan favourite, but I think even the band were taken aback by a mosh pit starting in ‘Blue’, one of their quieter, more contemplative tracks. And the crowd didn’t let up. Whilst they might’ve not expected the moshing in ‘Blue’, from that point on NewDad did get the energy from the crowd that they called for.

NewDad performing 'White Ribbons' during the encore | Dylan McNally

‘I Don’t Recognise You’ might’ve been the high point of the set; the song that put NewDad on the map being sung back to them by a sold-out Trinity was a truly special moment for everyone involved. As was the encore, with a stripped back and truly beautiful rendition of ‘White Ribbons’ followed by the album’s namesake ‘Madra’, which closes out the album and closed out this set.

Walking back through Old Market, I was struck by what NewDad have achieved. It might’ve been a set that was bookended by Madra’s opener and closer but what occurred in the meantime was a celebration of their past just as much as it was their present. All that’s left is to wait and see what their future holds. I, for one, can’t wait. 

Featured Image: Dylan McNally

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