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Squid - Vicar Street,, Dublin, 25/10/2023

  by Eoghan Lyng

published: 19 / 1 / 2024

Squid - Vicar Street,, Dublin, 25/10/2023

I have seen prog's true face, and he is a drummer. No, it's not Phil Collins or Robert Wyatt, but Ollie Judge who fronts Squid, an English outfit that specialises in a peculiar hybrid of blues, rock and baroque pop. In other words, prog. How very progressive and all that, eh? Much like Collins before him, Judge sings and drums concurrently, and although he can't match the Genesis main man as a percussionist, he surpasses him as a singer, particularly on the rock heavy numbers, laced with taut, tightly-oiled grit. Judge screams from the bottom of his lungs during 'G.S.K', a turbo-charged rocker that proves his vitality as a performer, although that's not a disservice to his bandmates, who decorate the stage with musical acumen and commitment. Bassist Laurie Nakvill is the band's unsung hero, performing some of the funk-laden rhythms with steady, shrill demeanour. Colin Greenwood's influence is evident on his work, but Nakvill is an inventive musician, unafraid to mix dub with jazz, with gnarled instrumental passages to pad out the set. There are moments when he drops the bass to play trumpet, recalling some of the Beatles' more obscure works ('Only A Northern Song', 'A Day In The Life' etc) in the process. As for the twin lead guitarists, Louis Borlase bounces around the stage with rock oriented poise, while Anton Pearson is almost taoistic, peering over his fretboard with the interest of a student determined to push his artistry. 'If You Had Seen the 4Bull's Swimming Attempts You Would Have Stayed Away' , 4a widescreen, big-hearted anthem on record now has added pathos considering the historical differences between the band's native country and my own. "It's nice to be in Dublin," the band cry out, although Judge's efforts to ask the crowd to "mosh nicely" seems to go over most people's heads. Then there are the extended jams. 'Pamphlets' segues into a monstrous battle between viewer and participant, while 'Cello Improv' (in honour of the band's classical metier) appeases some of the older members watching the band. By the end, the musicians onstage are lost in the moment, their smiles glowing from the centre. Sensing the disappointment that the show is going to close, Judge informs the Irish audience that they have "a few bangers left", allowing the band to thrust into their more dance oriented mode. (Fittingly, their second album, ‘O Monolith’, in Peter Gabriel's Real World studio; Gabriel's fingerprints can be felt on the deliciously bouncy 'The Blades'.) Where should the band go from here? Well, I would suggest immersing themselves further into the realm of prog, and add a visual element to their setlist. I imagine their budget can allow for a projection, or a floating balloon of some form. They're too pretty to hide in the shadows the way Pink Floyd did, but I predict that they'll take a more esoteric route with their stage gear. It would be churlish to say that Squid have revived prog - Muse have been carrying the banner for the best part of three decades - but it's nice to see that the younger generation have taken to the genre.

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Squid - Vicar Street,, Dublin, 25/10/2023

Squid - Vicar Street,, Dublin, 25/10/2023

Squid - Vicar Street,, Dublin, 25/10/2023

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