Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Anarchic rock and roll parody from this extremely talented and comedic Irish quartet.
Dead Cat Bounce – international touring concept rock band or a middle-aged novelty act on the pubs and clubs circuit? That’s the question drummer Demian Fox (drums, prosaic approach to life) throws at James Walmsley (guitars, lead vocals, with head much more in the clouds) mid-way through a laugh out loud set packed with firm favourites and some exciting new numbers.
Dead Cat Bounce are certainly much more than a mere novelty act. Bursting onto the stage, the Irish musicians launch into a hard rock number without a word of introduction……..about the characters in Toad of Toad Hall trying to live the American dream. A highly original start to what proved to be a highly innovative gig.
This Irish based rock and roll comedy quartet includes Mick Cullinan (keyboards) and Shane O’Brien (bass) in addition to the aforementioned Walmsley and Fox. They write in a variety of styles, from hip-hop to slow jams to 1980s rock anthems in the best “Queen” style. Their performance (and it’s some performance) is augmented by tight trousers (exceptionally so in the case of Fox), outlandish hair, an almighty amount of rock style posturing and an amazing range of pop videos and images, projected onto the back wall of the cavernous Pleasance One theatre.
It’s part rock parody and part pastiche at times, with some wonderfully crazy and at times surreal lyrics. Music is clearly their mistress and lyrics their lady. ‘Christians In Love’, an old favourite, visualises the hilarious antics that Christians might get up to on their wedding night. The couplet “like chimpanzees at a buffet bar, they’re grabbing at bits without knowing what they are” just about brought the house down as each one of us played that image around in our minds. Frightening!
The disaster that can befall you if you fail to choose your kayaking partner with care was just one example of their grasp of the surreal and absurdist. Another was the idea of dating wine, except in their case most of the vintages were well into their dotage creating more rather disturbing images in the mind’s eye.
But the real winner was a wonderfully homoerotic homage to the game of Rugby, complete with carefully cut video footage of players in action doing things that you wouldn’t have thought possible with the ball. It gives a whole new meaning to the verb “rucking”.
Where a lot of bands fall down is on the patter that links their songs. Not DCB, as it is clear that this has all been very carefully scripted and meticulously rehearsed. And behind these clowning antics are four very gifted musicians, all experts at teasing out great sounds from their chosen instruments and each other’s as, on occasion, the band simply swap things around and strike up another number.
It’s a wonderful mix of tightly written and achingly funny lyrics, high quality musicianship and pure, undiluted showmanship, particularly their last number which is a full-on advertisement for their new CD. Hard to fault and a very hard act to follow – and I’m off to buy my copy of that CD right now.