Tripping in like troubadours from some far Faerie galaxy, Mongoose hit the stage amid a barrage of rapid-fire ripostes, disarming any of the audience not yet acquainted with them, and charming those who are: glorious.
Firstly, there was that promising stage … not everyday does one see instruments such as a cello and a double bass nestling cheekily among the requisite guitars and keyboard. There’s even a mysterious blue casket thing that I later interpret as some kind of post-modern glockenspiel.
Throughout the set, you can hear the soft-hued grand-daughters of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Gently ironic tips to The Andrews Sisters. There are outrageous Russian polkas. Airy folk cadences. There are Gothic tales of redemption. I hear aching, beautifully crafted ballads redolent of passionate broken hearts of youth, and all delivered in gorgeous harmonies and a blend of voices that is indeed Faerie-like in its delicacy.
Sorry, am I getting frilly? Well, rest assured Mongoose are not frilly, thank you. There are strong vocals and belting crescendos comprised of intriguing lyrics which I won’t attempt to mis-quote this morning, but you can click here to see the video that accompanies their new “Two Birds” single, which the event served to launch.
Molly O’ Mahony, Ailbhe Dunne, Muireann Ní Cheannabháin, Cara Dunne may not be afficionadas of early movie slapstick, but their deft onstage antics occasionally echo just that: they alternate at the mike. They swop instruments. They slag each other and the audience and argue about the chronology of the set list (“Sorry, a little domestic here …”).
It has to be said that there is a unique atmosphere granted to a gig played under the Gothic arches of the Unitarian Church in St Stephen’s Green. Sound-wise, it’s a tough one, with all that pre-techno amplification already in place, but Kevin on the board does the necessary, accompanied by running images projected on the wall behind the band. These include anything from hilarious, animation potatoes doing Irish dancing (I kid you not) to an enchanting Lotte Reiniger-style Mongoose monster waltzing against a Psychedelic background.
From the ceiling, origami birds flutter pleasingly and punters even get to leave with a gift paper bird that comes with a free download of the band’s new single.
Original, smart – and happily evading any handy clichés that lazy musos are so fond of (meaning I didn’t use the word “quirky” okay), the band’s musical accomplishment, gorgeous harmonies and a unquenchable joie de vivre make their performance unique.
So, these marvelous Mongooses (correct plural, I looked it up) are well worth keeping an eye out for, as will their first album, to be launched in and around two months from now.