Chris Shiflett // Dea Matrona // Live Review // Whelan’s // Dublin
When the opportunity arises to catch a Foo in the flesh you have got to do it! The one, the only Mr Chris Shiflett was kicking off his solo Irish and UK Tour at Whelan’s in Dublin last night, so a road trip was called for. Chris is well known and the lead guitarist of The Foo Fighters and for many, he is a little lesser known for his solo adventures, which have been somewhat left field from his day job in the Foo’s. For Chris has gone rogue, he’s gone Country!
Tonight, as I stand in Whelan’s, one of Dublin’s historic music venues I scan the room to see what kind of crowd we have gathered as I try to figure out who’s here for the Country and who’s here for the opportunity to lay eyes on a Foo up close and personal. The venue is sold out, in fact, the tour is sold out which is great to see, and Dublin is no exception as people keep streaming their way into the compact and bijou venue right up to the point tonight’s support act hit the stage. Dea Matrona, Northern Irelands’ classic-rock, blues-infused female rock powerhouse, this duo are in town to set this place a light ahead of their own headline tour summer of 2023.
So, as the two ladies take to the stage and their drummer already laying down a beat, there appears to be a slight technical issue as there is no sound coming from the guitar of Mollie McGinn, the guitar tech sprints from stage right to assist and it takes a wee while to sort out which Is not the ideal start to a support slot but I have to say the girls take it all in their stride and do not appear to be fazed by it at all, fair play! As they get stuck right into their set the crowd offers a supportive cheer. The two girls have grins as big as Cheshire cats as they lay down a series of groovy riffs whilst harmonising vocals are name of the game and solid songwriting, addictive Irish charm and infectious joy for what they are doing shine through their set from start to finish. At various stages of the set the ladies interchange instruments, Mollie playing bass while Orlaith takes over guitar duties and vice-versa, they throw in an acoustic number before bruising everyone with their gnarly riffs once more, and as their set ends it is clear to see why they have garnered much attention over the last few years, their passion for what they do, that adorable Irish charm and loving life attitude is evident when they play, Whelan’s Dublin got the memo.
A quick turn around and one Mr Shiflett can be seen at the side of the stage chatting with the guitar tech as he tweaks his setup on stage, before you know it the lights go down and Chris and his drummer Robert Jolly and bassist Fox Fagan take their places as Whelan’s goes into a frenzy. The guys lay right into their set knocking out tune after tune and I am beginning to wonder if maybe Chris isn’t a talker, but I think it’s just first-night nerves and they want to get a feel for the tunes as they knock one out after another and eventually Chris takes a minute to catch his breath and welcome the Irish crowd to the show.
The venue is packed to the rafters, it’s a small venue with no pit, so as a tog you have to worm your way up front and really once there, there’s not a lot of room to manoeuvre, so I try to get a few shots and get out rather than taking up space that punters have paid money to be there, defo one of the more challenging venues to try and work in to get pictures but as a punter, the close proximity is something else as your fav artists are literally within touching distance. As previously mentioned as I scan around me I can see Foo Fighters T-shirts in the crowd, Foo Fighter phone covers being held aloft taking videos, and a bunch of Yanks, loud yanks to our right who just love to talk and shout very random stuff, the intimacy of a venue like this must be a little strange you imagine for someone like Chris who for so many years now has been playing stadiums with huge capacity crowds, but I guess this takes it right back to his early days with his punk-rock bands and the days of touring in a van across the country living and breathing it daily. Tonight it must feel like a home away from home, If any country on this planet loves country it’s Ireland, we just had C2C just a few weeks ago, and the legendary Garth Brooks filled the Aviva Stadium over the summer again and again, and a plethora of Country artists keep on announcing dates on the Irish isle as fans line up to snap up the tickets, so in this room, this very warm and sticky room, Chris Shiflett’s very own brand of Country is going down a storm. It seems everyone knows all the words to his songs, warbling along in unison, and he treats us to a collection of tracks from his back catalogue as well as his latest single, Black Top White Lines with its gnarly guitar work and cutting tone really gets Whelan’s bouncing. He also knocks out his next signal and at various points of the evening dons his Stetson to announce the arrival of “Honky Tonk Time” Dublin of course, approves this message.
He takes the time to acknowledge his partners in crime this evening, his old friend Robert Jolly on drums who joyrided his ass across the L.A. hills in Chris’s old Civic, and Fox for laying down the groove, shoutouts go out to the team on sound and his guitar tech and of course and he laughs at waking up in the morning, looking out the window at glorious blue skies and thinking to himself, ‘Where the fuck am I?” but he is reminded by the time he gets to the venue for soundcheck as it is freezing and pissing rain, “Im In Dublin!” The set rages on and we are all treated to first-class musicianship delivered by a true rockstar, the walls reverberating to the sound of his glorious telecasters cutting through the mix and the highly addictive melodies fill the room and all is good. The Irish weather can stay outside, in here we’re all friends and life is good.
Chris moves to Scotland tomorrow before hitting the UK, if you have any opportunity to get your hands on one of these sought-after tickets, do it. You’ll not regret it.
BRAND NEW SINGLE / VIDEO, ‘BLACK TOP WHITE LINES’, OUT NOW MARCH HEADLINE TOUR OF THE UK & IRELAND SOLD OUT EVERYWHERE
Chris Shiflett – Black Top White Lines (Official Lyric Video)
Chris Shiflett returns to the solo spotlight with new single / video, ‘Black Top White Lines’, out now via Snakefarm in the UK.
Produced by Jaren Johnston from The Cadillac Three, and co-penned with Johnston (a writer with multiple No. 1 country hits to his name) and Brothers Osborne guitarist, John Osborne, ‘Black Top…’ is a dark tale of justice that moves quickly into the fast lane with no intention of slowing down; it’s a heady taste of what can be found on Shiflett’s brand new studio album, set to appear later in 2023 – the first solo release from the long-time Foo Fighters member since 2019.
In support of the single, the guitarist announced a run of UK headline dates for March 2023, with all shows already sold out.
March 2023 – ALL SHOWS SOLD OUT
21st – Whelan’s, Dublin 22nd – St Luke’s, Glasgow 24th – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 25th – Band On The Wall, Manchester 26th – Thekla, Bristol 28th – Scala, London