Live Review: Hothouse Flowers, Town & Country, 6th or 7th June, 1990

Summertime Blues

Only a few years ago Hothouse Flowers were busking in the streets of Dublin. Today they still play with the carefree abandon of those days but in wholly different settings. Two nights at the Town and Country plus a night at Hammy Odeon is proof of their increasing popularity. However success hasn't led to cynicism nor pretension and this was very much evident tonight.

The Flowers got off to a bright start and I was immediately struck by their energy. Home the title track from the new LP is, according to vocalist Liam, "about when you are away from home, when you have to patch it up." It's a suitably moody ballad enhanced by heavy piano chords and anguished sax. I Can See Clearly Now (covered by just about everybody) is a shift in tempo. Liam's voice possesses an almost black soul inflection here and as the song builds up to a frenzy, the capacity crowd show their emphatic approval.

Another of their new songs Sweet Marie, like Home, is a tear-jerker; moonlight piano wrapped up in a delicate arrangement.

The momentum is really picking up and The Flowers give full expression to their eclectic tastes. "This one's a dance number," says Liam and the whole place whoops and jigs to this rollercoasting song. After that they lay on a little bit of calypso, some gospel and some way out, manic, chantalong rock like Feet On The Ground. I can't forget to mention their successful singles Don't Go and Give It Up both joyous bursts of soulful pop and even more so live.

It's been a long and full-blooded set that captured The Flowers. I suppose you could say they like to look on the bright side of life and prefer the Irish countryside to an urban jungle. Indeed but dippy hippies they ain't! Whatever your bag, be it Van Morrison or Guns n' Roses there's something for everybody here. To quote from Don't Go, "Let the sun shine." Says it all really.

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
July 1990
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