Dublin-based quintet Little Green Cars are back on the road in support of sophomore LP Ephemera, which emerged in March some three years since well-received debut Absolute Zero. Following stops in Manchester and Bristol with the touring Dot To Dot Festival, alongside Mystery Jets, Augustines and The Temper Trap amongst others, they played a headline show at London’s Village Underground venue to round out their tour, bringing their brand of folksy indie rock layered with blended vocal harmonies to East London’s trendy Shoreditch. Hipster beards and braces optional.
Appearing on the East London stage encased in smoke and lit from behind, the five-piece kicked off the night with Stevie Appleby-led Ephemera cut The Party, its rousing chorus immediately lifting the Village Underground crowd and had one guy in the front row dancing emphatically while the rest of the crowd nodded along.
Faye O’Rourke-led Good Women Do was up next, the slow-funk sophomore album track a true showcase for her distinctive and powerful voice, subtle harmonies provided by the other four. “We’re Little Green Cars and it’s great to be back in London” said Appleby sheepishly in his strong Irish accent ahead of Absolute Zero song Harper Lee, the crowd immediately singing along with the quirky but more familiar song.
“Usually when you haven’t been somewhere for a while and our second record came out, bang you’ve got a lot of explaining to do” said Appleby before introducing a poem about the band and their latest release including comedy statements such as “let me now explain why in our photos we never smile” alongside heartfelt reasoning behind their subject matter: “You need something that’s full of heart and you might not find that at the top of the charts” before explaining that the new album’s title means that all things must pass.
Adam O’Regan’s delicate guitar playing kicked off You Vs Me, Appleby and O’Rourke harmonising delicately ahead of Dylan Lynch and Donagh Seaver O’Leary’s rhythm section kicking the slowly building tune into second gear. Aptly-named sombre Ephemera cut The Song They Play Every Night had O’Regan taking on keys to accompany the Appleby-led tune. Brother once again gave O’Rourke a chance to show off her powerful voice as Appleby sat on the drum riser with a small synth in his lap, the song’s instrumental break demonstrating O’Regan’s simple yet effective guitar talents layered over O’Leary’s stomping bass.
Introducing the band’s first single The John Wayne, Appleby then took a moment out to tell the story of a fan they’d met on the tour, a heavy metal rock fan who had been introduced to Little Green Cars by a friend he’d gone on to lose to suicide. “Trust Little Green Cars to dedicate their happiest song to all the dead people in the room” he joked before revealing the fan’s name to actually be John Wayne. Addressing the audience for the first time, O’Rourke stepped forward: “Thank you so much for sharing your time with us tonight” ahead of OK OK OK, which saw Appleby step aside and O’Regan take up keys at the rear of the stage, once again showcasing O’Rourke’s powerful voice on the Ephemera cut.
O’Rourke-led Absolute Zero track My Love Took Me Down To the River To Silence Me brought out the voices of all five members along with many from the crowd, the group’s powerful five-part harmonies on full display for the 2013 single. Ephemera song Easier Day rounded-out the main set. Starting off with O’Rourke singing a cappella, O’Regan’s simple yet effective guitar part made this song just as much as the stunning vocals.
Returning to the East London stage after a brief departure, powerful O’Rourke-led I Don’t Even Know Who was followed quickly by Appleby The Consequences of Not Sleeping before the group assessed the practicalities of venturing into the crowd and went on to close the show with new album track The Factory, unamplified harmonised vocals sung from deep in the Village Underground crowd bringing a more intimate feel to the repurposed Victorian rail viaduct.
Little Green Cars are fantastic. For such a young group of musicians, they have a catalogue of music in just two album releases that many bands struggle to achieve over five, and so are spoilt for choice for well-written and diverse material to make up their live shows. But what they struggle with is charisma and the ability to take their beautifully crafted songs to the next level at their live shows. While Appleby does engage with the crowd, he’s shy and his limited years come across when he speaks. O’Rourke smiles at the crowd and the others are, sadly, seemingly transparent. We need them to step out of the shadows and make themselves more noticeable in today’s crowded music market, these songs deserve it.
Little Green Cars slot in an appearance at Southwold’s Latitude Festival this July ahead of a hometown show at Iveagh Gardens, Dublin on July 23rd.
Live review of Little Green Cars @ Village Underground by Kalpesh Patel on 1st June 2016.
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Photography by Lauren Patel.