‘Congregation’ is a live album with songs recorded from shows around Ireland and the UK. The opening track On the Turn from their second album starts with a bang. An audience chants the band’s name as the instruments come in altogether and bursts to life. The drums can easily be heard and changes rhythms effortlessly in the intro. Listeners can just imagine being at a gig, jumping around to Kerbdog. Battle comes in with coarse vocals that haven’t aged a day since the bands split 16 years ago. The scene set is perfect for what comes after.
During the album the band plays songs from both their previous two albums and keeps the energy high throughout. The clear dynamics between the whole band shows the closeness of these four guys even after so long. With the likes of Sally, an absolute anthem, Butler is on cue for the whole song, coming in with a tightly controlled kick drum as Battle erupts with ‘lend me an ear, you’re to hear’, just to change naturally into a neat drum fill for ‘a bird in the hand, should be glad’.
A favourite track for me would be Pointless. Fennelly’s timing is perfect from the beginning with a lazy bass line which then picks up with the help of lead guitar to become lively and active. Cormac and Billy’s combined vocals are fresh and contrasting in the chorus; for one of the first times we can hear the backing vocals clearly. The guitar solo has my head crashing to the beat, for the final chorus I am in the crowd feeding off the energy oozing from this amazing band.
Dalton makes his guitar sing especially in songs like On the Turn and Secure where listeners question if they are hearing things when Battle’s vocals sound like they are being layered in certain parts.
Battle entertains the audience with banter during song changes, which adds to the enjoyment of the album. Just after Sally, Battle asks the audience to hold up their ‘lighter apps’ as security will not allow the use of lighters in the venue (which is understandable). There is no confusing his accent – this band is 100% Irish. This final live track JJ’s Song features Cormac thanking the crowd for coming along by saying ‘You’ve been fucking fabulous and thank you so much’.
The album ends with a studio recording of Electricity, a new track which shows that this band have matured and improved with age. Their influences seem to have changed for this single as it is more uplifting and melodic, but Battle’s vocal are still a central part of the band which do not change and Butler’s ability to provide driving drum beats to accompany the great riffs of Fennelly and Dalton transports die-hard fans back to 1997.
This album gives fans a front row seat to a Kerbdog gig at any time just by listening to the album. Kerbdog plays the Academy, Dublin on the 14th of November 2014. Check out their Pledge page here to find out about their goodies on sale for a limited time only.
KERBDOG PLAY DUBLIN’S ACADEMY ON NOVEMBER 14TH. FOR TICKETS AND SHOW INFORMATION CHECK OUT DME PROMOTIONS (click graphic below for link to tickets)
Words – Karyn Corrigan