A NEAR-FLAWLESS, sweaty COMEBACK...
Whelan's > CHRIS WASSER
Paul Finn should have worn just one top. The shirt and T-shirt combo, on a night of dead, sweaty heat in Whelan's? Jeez, man, what were you thinking? Don't get me started on the other lads (they came in black).
"We're gonna attempt to entertain you tonight," says Finn, looking like a man who's about to pass out - and after only three songs, mind. He'll survive.
Frontman Finn is one of two original members of The Flaws, a Monaghan-based indie-rock four-piece that got us all excited way back in 2007. Remember Achieving Vagueness? What a cracking debut, nominated for both Choice and Meteor gongs at the time. "Big things ahead!" we cried.
And then…nothing. Second album, Constant Adventure, passed us by. Poor marketing? Probably. We presumed they'd long since called it a day. Tonight, Finn assures us that third album, Springtime for the Flaws, is due early next year. In the springtime, most likely. Indeed, The Flaws are ready for their close-up. Again.
It's about time this lot got their act together. Finn apologises for being away so long. "So much farming to do," he laughs. Your guess is as good as mine. But the important thing is that the comeback is off to a flying start, The Flaws (above) having developed more of a sense of fun about their craft since we last checked in on them.
Sure, the intensity is still there, Finn's manic, wide-eyed stare, spirited vocal and chiming fretwork accompanying almost every track. But the boys also look like they're having a blast. Crucial, that.
It's a raucous airing of the new (Animals and the terrific Black and Blue), the old (we're going to have to check out that second album) and the older (1981 and the punchy Out Tonight). The Flaws' 80s-tinged songbook, all glistening riffs and anthemic choruses, occasionally throws out an absolute gem (You and I remains one of the finest singles ever released by an Irish rock band).
"We're rip-roaring through this," says Paul. Yes, yes they are. In fact, it's a near-breathless presentation. They're all on the same page, though (drummer Colin Berrill is on fire). It might have something to do with being holed up in the studio for nights on end, but the new-look Flaws exhibit a level of tightness and dexterity that suggests they're willing to give this third round a proper go.
A weaker man might call it a flawless display. Not me. But it's pretty close. There's always room for more smart, finely-tuned guitar bands here. Let's be having that new album.