Sunday, 30 September 2018

Photos: Hard Working Class Heroes 2018, Day 2 - Just Mustard, Molly Sterling, The Wood Burning Savages, Silverbacks & more

The Wood Burning Savages - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly

All photos: Remy Connolly

(click on first image to begin slideshow on laptop / desktop)

Featured in the below collection of photographs in order from top to bottom are The Wood Burning Savages, Just Mustard, Molly Sterling, Silverbacks, Hunkpapa, A. Smyth, Celaviedmai, 1,000 Beasts, P E A R L Y, Sean O'B and Sonja Sleator.

Info: From a rather ambitious (naive!) schedule of trying to catch 27 out of the 50 acts over the weekend at Hard Working Class Heroes 2018, I was happy to settle for 22! I really enjoyed every minute of it, I always think it's better to have city centre festivals compacted over two nights maximum and obviously with venues within the vicinity of each other, in that sense HWCH is a great festival to ensure you maximise the number of acts you can see across two nights. Another big help is how the teams at each venue stick like clockwork to the timetables, as do the bands, ensuring you aren't cutting short any acts you want to see due to unforeseen circumstances.

So how about them acts? You know it's a good thing when it starts to sound like a cliché that the Irish music scene is in great health and shape, but that is an undeniable fact, and has been for a number of years now. I took a little pause last night to remind myself that nothing lasts forever, and that I need to acknowledge a little more often how lucky I am to be covering Irish music, you can get spoilt and take it as a given that the standard is going to be so good every time you go to a show. Let's not take this very happy state of affairs for granted!

There were breath-taking performances across the weekend, Æ MAK had a number of 'Jesus, this is actually happening' moments, high energy and high impact on the audience. New Pagans delivered a set that felt too real, a rock fans set that fills the hole of knowing you missed the glory days of the 70's - not in terms of their sound, but performance, it was class. Kitt Phillipa had a grace on stage at The Grand Social, and I felt like I was seeing and hearing the real deal, I was. It was also palpable that all of the acts were fully in the zone with their performances, there was no sense of going through the motions, particularly noticeable with A. Smyth last night as he closed his set at The Workman's Club (the ex-VANN Music man is a serious guitarist btw). Tim Chadwick was the first act I saw of the weekend, and his positivity transferred straight from stage to audience, as did Hunkpapa's last night. Also big shouts to Silverbacks, I've lost count of the number of singles they've released that I've been hooked on, it's time to move on from the one that begins with 'D' now too, I need to cease talking about it every time they play.

Just Mustard enchanted, they always do, very few bands in Ireland have the ability to hypnotise an entire audience the way do, two songs in and the pill of their sound has taken over your system. I'm also yet to see them play to a room that isn't packed. The Wood Burning Savages, be the hokey, every time I see them they make their last gig seem tamer, no one I saw had a bolshier stage presence than the Derry-based punk-rock quartet this weekend, there's something iconic about frontman Paul Connolly's performances, who had one of the best one-liners of the festival too, as he asked the crowd if they would like to take a trip back to the 17th century, we were puzzled, until he continued; "Because you can come with us after the show, when we head up the M1 back home to Northern Ireland." Humour, yes, but also a wry, disapproving nod to the social issues and inept institutions the band openly discuss in their music, not the people who live there. They are passionate about where they want their country to get to and the type of just society they envision, a lot of my respect for them emanates from this consciousness. 

Finally, Molly Sterling, it sounds weird to say I feel proud of her as an artist, because that's really only a position the people who work with her can truly take, but I can't think of a better word. Sterling is doing very well so far at this relatively early stage of her musical career, there are many singer-songwriters / solo artists who are excelling and well-known, writing great music, but few can channel emotion through music so powerfully in the way she does. In addition, Sterling has good people around her, who you can tell are as determined as she is to see her succeed as an artist. 

The only time I choked up all weekend was toward the end of her set at The Grand Social last night, I could put that down to being 'tired and emotional', but I'm a big boy, I can admit it was just the music! I didn't get much time to soak up a lot of the other acts I saw as I was on the move so much, but even fleeting visits affirmed my earlier thoughts, and the variety of genres and styles fills you with hope that their is no Dark Ages of independent Irish music looming around the corner any time soon. Kudos yet again to the organisers of Hard Working Class Heroes and especially to the staff at all of the venues.

To view our photos from Day 1 of Hard Working Class Heroes, go here

Just Mustard - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly

Molly Sterling - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly

Silverbacks - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly

Hunkpapa - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly

A. Smyth - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly

Celaviedmai - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly

1000 Beasts - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly

PEARLY - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly

Sean O'B - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly

Sonja Sleator - Hard Working Class Heroes - Remy Connolly