Unfortunately First Aid Kit have had to cancel all their summer shows due to illness. Fortunately for me that meant they were replaced by Fontaines DC at the recent Forbidden Fruit festival in Dublin. After a few will we/won't we moments due to the lashing rain, we were treated to one of the most incendiary live sets since the Pogues were in their rum lashed pomp.
As I raved about them afterwards, all I kept hearing was how derivative they are. Yes, at times they remind me of the Vaccines; and Blur; and the Clash; and Jonathan Richmond and Modern Lovers – like any other band, a list of influences could go on and on. Let’s take the first band I mentioned. Short, punchy, melodic sings driven by a pounding rhythm. Mmm, never heard that before. What the Vaccines did, they did well and most importantly for me they could recreate it live - in fact they were far better live than on record.
As Fontaines DC struck up, my first thought was that lead singer Grian reminds me of Ian Curtis. For the next hour of mesmerising mosh and roll, I couldn’t have given two shits which ancestors they sounded like. At that point, they only sounded like themselves and they had swagger, attitude and songs with a direct line to primitive pleasure centre. What the fuck else do you want from a band?
You might as well stand me in front of a crowd of my peers when I am dancing around a campfire at some festival. And let them say ahh stop, you're just copying a shaman in early Mesopotamia. Everything is related.
I don’t know how many true originals there are. Even Isaac Newton, without whom Einstein wouldn't have developed his theory of relativity, was reputed to have said "if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants".
If we limit it to music I would say Bach, who moved us from simple harmony to counterpoint; and Louis Armstrong, without whose popularisation of jazz, modern music as we know it wouldn’t exist. What’s that I hear you say? Bach's butler was a dab hand on the piano…?