Ham SandwicH, The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 29.05.15

 

Some days we are aware of coincidence. Perhaps this fortuity happens all the time but we only notice occasionally. On Friday last, 29th May, I was checking Instagram. Donal Dineen, Ireland's greatest music broadcaster (think John Peel from Kerry), put up a photo of a Dublin 'STOP' traffic sign. Some witty person had added the words 'MAKING SENSE' beneath the 'STOP', instantly creating some class of ad hoc cultural reference to Talking Heads, the American band of some renown. I responded to the photo with the predictable 'This Must Be The Place' comment, a reference to one of Talking Heads most enduring songs, a love song in a band canon that doesn't have too many love songs. So far so simple. I made a comment on Instagram, a real social media highpoint. I hear you concur. Later on I took the dog for a quick walk along the Grand Canal. An elderly man stopped me and asked me about an address on Percy Place. I checked his hand written directions on the envelope and pointed over to a side street. 'Ah great', he said, 'this must be the place so'. Dog walked, I headed home and loaded up the camera bag with the usual stuff. I had a photo pass to shoot Ham SandwicH in The Olympia Theatre.

I had taken shots of the band on a number of previous occasions (HS at Unitarian Church here) and also gone along as a punter to some shows at the start of the group's journey. One of the joys of the group's shows is the cover song selection. There is usually one song given the HS treatment. In the past I've seen rousing versions of The Smith's 'There Is A Light', Donna Summer's “I Feel Love' and Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill'. At the Olympia, towards the end of the band's set, Niamh, vocalist and main on stage focus, mentioned that a song was coming up that all the band love. After a few moments she started, acapella, with 'Home is where I want to be, Pick me up and turn around, I feel numb, born with a weak heart , guess I must be having fun'. I smiled. Three strikes. The Goddess of Coincidence had rolled another seven. 'This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), to give the song's full title, was rumbling it's way through the old theatre. I thought that some sort of circle had been completed, some tiny quotidian movement of chess pieces had been played. By the time band had reached the cover song we had already been treated to all of the new album, 'Stories From The Surface'. From memory I think 'Broken (Start Over)' was the only omitted track. Songs from older albums stand the test of time with 'Ants' and 'White Fox' sounding as poptastic as ever. The remarkable thing about a Ham SandwicH show is the good vibes generated. The on stage antics of Podge McNamee may have calmed slightly over the years but the vocalist/guitarist still wears the cloak of unpredictability. He's just one of those lads. Always up for it. He engaged the audience with some witty banter, self deprecatingly analysing the Kells accent. I think part of the band's success is because of the Kells roots. Rural Ireland may not seem the perfect place to start an indie-pop band but I reckon it was an advantage for this group. The album mentioned above reached number one in the album charts. Niamh thanked all for the accolade. That overnight success thing can take twelve years sometimes.

There are plenty of photographs in the set below (probably too many to be honest). The band generously gave photographers access to shoot for the entire show. Like I said; nice people, great music, lovely vibes.

 

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