Review: Seti The First, Triskel Christchurch, Cork

Courtesy of
"Hello audience, we're the band."
Kevin Murphy (Seti The First)

Understandably, instrumental bands tend to be labelled as soundtrack music followed by a description of the type of hypothetical movie most suitable to accompany the music on show. True, this methodology may also be applied to a review of a Seti The First live show but the difference is, rather than a nice and safe aerial trip high above sprawling New Zealand grasslands and prehistoric Icelandic pastures, Seti The First pull you right down into the deep and dirty - think brutal: bloody nails and torn flesh. Rather than allow the viewer watch from afar, they drag you right into the thick of their own primally charged screening.

As a live beast, they are a pack of six with cellist Kevin Murphy undeniably - if reluctantly - the alpha male of the group. A sound dominated by twin, at times duelling, cellos (the second held by the talented hands of Mary Barnecutt, seated beside Murphy at front of stage) is introduced steadily to all who have attended mass on this Wintry November evening in the form of the delicately plucked, and sweetly titled, 'Sugar For Sealion'. Soon accompanied by Thomas Haugh, the other half of the Seti... brain, on drums, the compositions dance from the cerebral to the visceral like a rabid ballet dancer fighting dual yet contradictory instincts. The frantic Hitchcockian 'Spider' is made even more disconcerting by the introduction of blood red lighting, a fittingly gruesome addition to the natural acoustics of the Christchurch, complete with unexpected yet enthralling wailing wordless vocals provided by Barnecutt.

Although arrangements from debut record Melting Cavalry dominate proceedings, tantalising trinkets of other work are conscientiously incorporated into the set including several Haugh/Murphy-only compositions, "wouldn't sell a lot of pies" 'Pie Sellers' and the virile pomp of 'Nails And Rain'. It was only when the sextet, completed by Patrick Lyons on Spanish guitar, Aki on the fascinating nyckelharpa and Murphy's niece Emma O'Connell on violin, let loose on the Melting Cavalry tracks that they really came alive. A rearranged version of 'La Bassinette Noir' roared while the sombre shape-shifting 'New Brass Bird' simply soared. Poor old Yan Masaryk is doomed to be immortalised in nightly defenestrations but the zenith of the evening has to belong to the hauntingly swarm-like low notes packed into 'Victory Motel, playfully introduced by the cello-wielding frontman as "our hit". Everything I had hoped for. And more...

For more on Seti The First visit:

- Seti the First played Triskel Christchurch Thursday, 8th November
-They play The Sugar Clubin Dublin on Saturday, 10th November

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