LIVE REVIEW: dirt, Islington Academy 2, London, 16/01/15
When you’re genuinely questioning whether or not a band are miming for the best part of 30 minutes, something’s either gone horrifically wrong or very, very right. Fortunately for dirt, it’s the latter. Alistair Keenan’s vocals possess a perfection usually rare in a touring act of many years, and it’s almost impossible to imagine that this is their first time (at least collectively) in front of a crowd. Each of the other bands who have played this evening are fantastic, but there’s pretty much one group who’ve collectively stolen the show.
Don’t be mistaken. dirt (yes, that’s purposely written like that) didn’t just rock up, play and hope for the best. Tonight, their debut show to celebrate the long-awaited release of EP Mirrors at London’s Islington Academy 2 has been the result of many months – years even – of backbreaking effort and determination. Bearing in mind the band are formed of members from an array of places across the country, the idea that they’ve managed to sell out the 250 capacity venue is almost unimaginable to any small band who themselves haven’t managed to yet crack London – but for these guys, we consider the city well and truly cracked (on a modest scale, at least!).
Playing a show off the back of one EP is a challenge at the best of times, but to both headline and captivate with it throughout is incredible. Despite only releasing three songs as yet, they manage to pad out the time with seven tracks in total. Half an hour isn’t a long time, but it can feel like an eternity when you’re not sure how people are going to respond – whilst only one song is new to dirt themselves, the crowd can be forgiven for not knowing exactly what’s what. Yes, admittedly, the audience seems filled with loving and supportive friends as fans, but they’ve clearly created a buzz for themselves which has encouraged enough of them to come down (a mean feat for any act out there today, just ask anyone!).
Whilst they don’t technically have a repertoire involving any household name songs as such (give them a break, it’s the EP launch show, after all…!), when it comes to Fade, there’s something quite magical about hearing the entire place screaming it back up at the guys in adoration, and Bonds, from their first ever (awesome) music video goes down a treat to end the affair. It’s clear from each and every one of this five piece’s faces that this is exactly where they need to be, and this incredible reaction is exactly what they have been doing all of this for.
It’s no secret that some of the best acts these days are those who offer a little more, something to remember them by. dirt have certainly got the memo early on in their career, with equal measures of insanity (when it comes to their technical playing skills) and a whole other kind of insanity, with an energy impossible to ignore. By the time guitarist Nikhil Aggarwal is shredding it up to the by now adoring fans, it’s plain to see that this is just the beginning for this lot. With a charismatic frontman, there’s usually at least enough charm to impress the enthusiasts at the front. When you’re bringing in an entire band full of it, it’s hard for it to escape anyone’s notice.
If you missed it, we wouldn’t worry. This may be the first time you could have seen these guys do their stuff, but it certainly won’t be the last. With a headline slot at Camden Rocks already booked (in place of supporting a more well-known act), it’s clear that everyone – most notably themselves – has the confidence in them to go as far as they need to go. We think that’ll be pretty far, and we can’t wait.
Written by: Claire Louise Sheridan