Review : A Winged Victory For The Sullen in Half Moon Theatre (Cork), Wednesday January 18th

Belgian stargazers Sleepingdog opened for A Winged Victory For The Sullen in the Half Moon Theatre last night in what was to be the latter(and possibly the former)'s first ever live appearance in Ireland.

Adam Wiltzie, one half of the main act as well as co-founder of legendary drone-merchants Stars of the Lid, seemed to be everywhere in the Opera House's little sister venue on a wet and miserable night (only outside mind) as he sold merchandise on the door before joining Chantal Acda on stage to complete the Sleepingdog line-up. Yes Wiltzie does indeedlike his duos. Who doesn't I guess?

Acda, switching between piano and electric guitar, seemed momentarily - and understandably - unsettled by the eerily quiet Half Moon audience (her innocent "isn't there an Irish name for Cork?" question was met with a nervous wall of silence before a brave soul eventually piped up "Corcaigh"!) but shook it off almost immediately, treating the quiet to a half dozen or so tender tunes from 2011's With Our Heads in the Clouds and Our Hearts in the Fields as Wiltzie noodled around on synths in the background. A drummer and an ankle-belled percussionist would make an appearance for a number of songs, adding angelic harmonies here and there.

Wiltzie, who probably played a quick set in Cashman's across the road during the interval, returned accompanied by Dustin O'Halloran, his melodious partner in crime. A string trio - including the ankle-belled percussionist now armed with a cello - gracefully occupied the middle of the stage with the quintet backdropped by a menacing moon on the big screen. Add in the two devilish gargoyles perched on top of the PA on either side of the stage and the absence of light, with the exception of the string players tiny lamps so that they could read sheet music, and the Half Moon had herself quite a setting for a Wednesday night.

As noted at the end by O'Halloran - resulting in a cheeky giggle from Wiltzie as his friend obviously states this every night - they do only have one album so the setlist was pretty much comprised of the duo's entire eponymous debut. The Stars of the Lid magician focused both on synths and guitar, conjuring some majestical sounds from the latter as his partner worked his own wizardry on the piano. The daydream-inducing strings of 'Steep Hills Of Vicodin Tears' proved a highlight and the final song of the night that had appeared on the 2011 record. An encore of a completely new arrangement* ended the night to a rapturous applause from the reserved yet enthralled crowd. Sugar Clubbers are certainly in for a treat tonight.

*Which happened to be Arvo Part's 'Fratres for Strings'

- A Winged Victory For The Sullen play The Sugar Club in Dublin tonight (Jan 19th)