The Coronas @ Metropolis Fremantle
w/ BR Dalton
Saturday, November 25, 2017
Irish indie-rockers The Coronas hit Metropolis Fremantle last Saturday night as part of their Australian tour in support of their new album Trust the Wire. With doors opening pretty early at 6pm it wouldn’t have been surprising if it was a little quiet to start off with, but it seemed all the fans had got the message and there was solid showing from the beginning – although the bar was attracting much of their attention at this stage.
Opening act BR Dalton set the mood perfectly amidst the chatter as the crowds drifted toward the stage. The Irish born, now Freo local singer-songwriter played out an amicable set showcasing a strong vocal range and a homely demeanor. His acoustic guitar tones and melodies blended together sweetly with the chirpy jig compliments of a violinist that accompanied him through the set. Standing up close it felt like the cavernous walls of the venue had shrunk to the intimate experience which one might get in a carpet-floored family pub in Dublin by a fireplace in the thick of winter.
It set the tone for a jubilant evening in a place filled with the friendliest and most enthused Irish folk you’re likely to encounter this side of St Patrick’s Day. It seemed like everyone had come down for the specific purpose of catching up with friends, having a few drinks and enjoying themselves. While Metros Freo was busy it wasn’t crowded to the point of exhaustion and it felt easy to move around and relax.
It was about 20 minutes later that The Coronas strolled onto the stage amidst the cheers and fanfare of an audience that already seemed resigned to fervor and adoration. They had the ‘every man’ dress-code of shirts, jeans and sneakers and you couldn’t help feeling they looked almost too friendly and approachable. They opened with one of the favourite tracks from their new album in Real Feel. It kicked things off with a bang – in the form of floor and rack tom rhythms accompanied by earworm synth hooks that pulled everyone to the front of the stage.
Frontman Danny O’Reilly seemed to skip between multiple personas, downing the guitar for the next track Get Loose and taking to the keyboard and tambourines instead. It was a common feature of the evening with the singer seeming laconic and somehow still restlessly shifting between instruments every song. He never really seemed to do a great deal musically but still looked and felt in his element whether it was on electric, acoustic, keys or just exposed under the shimmering light show with nothing but a microphone.
Sonically, The Coronas were on point throughout the set. Their songs are clearly built around the vocal melodies and the instruments generally sat behind them nicely in the mix. There weren’t many guitar riffs for example that demanded your attention, and like the synth was there more to complement and add texture to the intimate and expressive narrative being delivered in the lyrics. Backing vocals are pretty much the hardest thing to get right for a live band, but The Coronas seemed to have whittled down their art over years of touring and recording. Not to mention they never seemed to stop smiling and the mood was infectious. On Addicted to Progress drummer Conor Egan showed the best of his wares with a shuffling high hat tempo coloured with flickerbeat triplets and a crowd that couldn’t help but sing along.
A Bit Withdrawn, probably felt like the weakest song of the evening. Both the band and the crowd seemed to be enduring something of a traffic jam wanting to keep rolling on but feeling hindered by the slow pace and disconcerted chatter throughout the room. It was played well and is actually one of the finer songs off their new album but didn’t translate as well as the others amidst a boisterous and dance-ready audience.
One of the most impressive aspects of the set was the discipline and nouse of the synth player who somehow managed to incorporate the tones of rustic traditional instruments such as the Irish flute into something that felt natural and complementary to the rest of the band. This was never more apparent than on Dreaming Again, but he showed an impressive adaptability when O’Reilly threw it out to the crowd to choose the next song, We Couldn’t Fake It showing a versatility of the whole band to deliver what their fans wanted at the drop of a hat.
O’Reilly also wasn’t shy of the microphone between songs, and his affable, sometimes cheeky banter was well received. He noted that it had been ten years since the release of their first album and spelled out what everyone was already thinking: “How young were they when they put their first album out? They look so good for their age….” You couldn’t really overstate the strength of the Irish contingent in the audience. At times it felt like some kind of Celtic reunion you weren’t invited to but somehow felt completely welcome at with the crowd perplexingly breaking into the “Ole, Ole, Ole” chant between songs.
During What a Love the crowd were swaying complicity with their phone lights on. O’Reilly promised the audience they would be back on our shores soon and that this would be their last song unless they ‘clapped a lot’. And clap they did. It was predictable as hell, but charming nonetheless when after a few minutes the group reemerged with Mark my Words, during which O’Reilly jumped into the crowd for the rapturous singalong that ensued.
The Coronas’ music isn’t exactly groundbreaking or ambitious, but it was hard to argue with the tangible connection they made with the audience through their set. The friendly and ultimately amicable crowd were happy to slackly dance in the palm of their hands throughout the set and despite the multiple encores could have still gone for more. It was a well-rehearsed and well-executed performance that at no point felt disengaged with the fans – which is much harder to do than just about everyone realises.