Live Review: Just Mustard / Elaine Malone – The Academy, Dublin 03,06,2022

Words: Max Falvey // Pictures: Ian Mc Donnell

A week on from the release of their second album ‘Heart Under’, mind-blowing Irish visionaries Just Mustard took to Dublin’s Academy last Friday on the first night of their European tour, playing 12 songs on what was an at times brooding, but mostly dream-like performance. ‘Heart Under’ is an insane progression onwards from their first album ‘Wednesday’, which came out in 2018. While further pushing the very boundaries of rock music, it turns pent-up pandemic angst into an unearthly monster of a record. And by no surprise, it sounds even better live. 

Elaine Malone was the support for the night, with her and her backing band producing a brilliantly hypnotic, my bloody valentine-esque performance. Their wall of sound powered by an effects-ridden jazzmaster guitar blended beautifully with Elaine’s eerie vocals, and banging out a clarinet for the final song was hilarious, and yet they made it work! It sounded sick! ‘Open Season’ was the standout from their set, and the audience groaned in disappointment when they said they had one song left. A perfect appetiser for the night, and I instantly became a fan. 

After a short break, Just Mustard then took to the stage drenched in darkness, with each band member being silhouetted against a blood red background. Exploding into ‘Seven’, I could feel the blistering force from their screeching guitars straight away, instantly defining the band as being calm amongst the chaos they create. The lighting of the entire show was super interesting, as it always contained an element of darkness. Either the band members themselves or the curtain behind them were blacked out at any moment, which only added to the intensity of the intimate show. From ‘Heart Under’, 7 of its 10 songs were played, my personal favourite being ‘23’ in which guitarist Mete Kalyon used a violin bow on his guitar to obtain the dark turbulence that looms in the background of the song. 

Classics such as ‘Frank’ and ‘Deaf’ still sound massive live, the latter of which receiving a phenomenal response from the crowd as guitarist David Noonan performed his slow-building verse that reaches to a bloodcurdling scream. “I met the money monkey man he told me what he’d say, he said he’d take on all my sin and walk it all away.” It was moments like this, as well as the little-to-no crowd interaction, that really added to the band’s mysticism. They were very reserved on stage, mysterious almost, that made the music that emerged from them all the more shocking. The beautiful melodies and chilling guitar manipulation on new tracks like ‘Mirrors’ and ‘Early’ are pure examples of why Just Mustard’s act is pure killer with no filler, needing no showmanship from the band to back up any music they perform.

The Dundalk five-piece closed the set with ‘Still’ and ‘Seed’, two clear fan-favourites from the new album. I personally wasn’t sold on ‘Seed’ on my first few listens, but hearing the band perform it live and having lead singer Katie Ball’s vocals pierce right through me, I could almost feel my acquired taste developing for the song. It’s something else live, and with no encore to follow, that signalled the end of the show. Just an all-round brilliant performance, and I’m already dying to see them again. For a band that have been going for 10 years, it feels as if they’re just getting started. Thank you for reading.

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