There is an eternal youthfulness to Nada Surf. Almost 30 years on the road and they are still making audiences all over the world smile with their happy-go-lucky brand of power-pop. Dublin tonight is no exception. Bass player Daniel Lorca enters the stage wading through the audience as the rest of the band take their places. They open with ‘Comes A Time’ and as the set progresses it is clear they have reverted back to a three-piece for this European tour, leaving guitarist Doug Gillard at home. It’s like the early days, the band are back to their original line-up.
Next up is ‘Weightless’, a back catalogue classic which gets the room bouncing. Singer Matthew Caws talks of having his first barbershop shave where instead of getting aftershave to finish, it is custom to have a shot of whiskey; “So that’s why you were acting the way you did at soundcheck,” chirps Daniel from stage left, who for a lot of the gig holds an unlit cigarette between his lips.
The drummer Ira Elliot sings backing vocals beautifully throughout and at one point admits he is so high he is finding it hard to focus. But the band is tight, barely putting a foot wrong. ‘Friend Hospital’ has the first and only guitar solo of the night from Caws. It’s alright, nothing spectacular and he apologises for not having the orchestra which plays on their latest release to fill out their sound. He can do no wrong, talking while changing the position of his guitar capo between songs.
‘Inside of Love’ is dedicated to “June” who has travelled from Singapore for the gig tonight. ‘Rushing’ and ‘Blonde on Blonde’ are highlights and sung along by most of the room, especially by an over-enthusiastic man, ironically attired in a Curb Your Enthusiasm t-shirt.
Nada Surf play all the hits with ‘Do It Again’ and ‘I Like What You Say’ being the only exceptions left off the list. There’s a faux encore where they even play ‘Popular’ – the band’s ‘Teen Spirit’ – which is always debated as to whether it will make the cut for shows or not. ‘Always Love’ is a fitting follow-up before ‘Blankest Year’ finishes the set complete with crowd singalong emphasised by the band.
Support act and GIITTV favourite Malojian tells stories about “getting lifted in Belfast” and getting into trouble with the Mrs before he closes his set with a stunning version of ‘Julie-Anne’. Fresh from recording with Steve Albini in Chicago it will be interesting to hear his latest release.
The night belongs to “The Surf” though, who when ‘The Blackest Year’ eventually finishes come back out for a second time with an unplugged acoustic guitar to give a rendition of ‘Blizzard of ‘77′. The only mistakes made are when Caws sometimes plays ahead of parts of songs, but they are a solid live act who continue to entertain loyal crowds.
The room of the venue they played in was hot – a little uncomfortably so but there were no complaints from the band who seemed to enjoy every minute of their performance. Their last studio album got eight out of ten on this website recently. This gig gets the same mark.