Wormhole & Jubilee live review, Hot Press, 1995

Wormhole or The Wormholes as they later became were an unbelievable live band and I was lucky enough to see them a few times, never more memorably than in the show below. The Wormholes are about to release an anthology You Never See The Stars When It Rains 1994-1999 and to my surprise and delight Eamonn Crudden of Dead Elvis asked me to write sleeve notes. I opened my piece for the anthology by quoting the opening paragraph of the live review posted below. 25 years later, and not a nostalgist, I still remember the thrill of shows like this in venues like the Attic. We were incredibly lucky with the bands we had in Dublin then. I won’t list them for fear of leaving someone out. Note: I’ve always regretted that stupid aside about guitar trashing. I know it pissed the band off, they told me on Facebook years later, and they were right. Grrr.

Pic by Andrew Duffy

WORMHOLE/JUBILEE (The Attic, Dublin)

NOW IS as exciting a time to be a rock’n’roll fan in Dublin as I can remember. No longer do you have to wish that you’d been aware of the existence of the Underground a decade ago; everywhere you look, these days, there’s another crowd of lo-fi misfits getting it together to borrow or steal distortion pedals and to promise as fantastic a few months as that legendary summer of ‘85.

Jubilee are Wormhole’s favourite Irish group. They remind me too of some of my favourite groups; their quietly self-hating and magnificent ‘Better Than I Know Myself’ has both the should-you-be-telling-us-this vibe and the feeling that they’re only just holding it together that I associate with Sebadoh and, not wishing to crush their shoulders with such a hefty comparison at this early stage, the mighty Palace Brothers. They have a long way to go, but they’ll get there.

Wormhole may be there already. They stride on, not a scar between them, which doubtless explains the lack of digging by chicks that I’d imagine fuels their very loud pop music. Theirs is, like many groups, a wall of noise, on top of which they stick and under which they hide many things of beauty.

Dave, with his driven drumming and vocal asides that range from honey-sweet harmonies to piercing, shrill howls, is massively rock’n’roll, while Graham supplies the melancholia with his Corgan-resembling strums and sometimes gravelly, tired vocals (He also recalls Mark E. Smith, but we’ll let that pass.) He knows feedback, too, though, and he even attempts to trash his guitar but then remembers how little he can afford to – the only downer of the evening. Don’t start something you can’t finish, would-be rock’n’roll anarchists: it makes your chaos look calculated, and that’s never good.

Hooks, the stuff of which pop dreams are made, are everywhere in Wormhole’s music. The “Ah-roo do do do doo-doo” of ‘12AM’, the ominous groove of ‘Leave The Blanket In’, every riff, every bassline. Their lust for life and music is inspiring, so that even their closing fifteen-minute wankout leaves you standing on the edge of your seat, if you got there early enough to have one (the Attic was crammed).

They alone are a reason why Puppy Love Bomb’s once-accurate slogan has to be binned. In 1995, Dublin’s still alive.