Irish indie rock band Ham Sandwich made their first appearance at The Belfast Empire Music Hall on Saturday 16th April and showed audiences they’re far more than a funny name.
The band who hail from Kells, Co. Meath formed in 2003 and consist of Niamh Farrell (lead vocals), Podge McNamee (vocals, guitar), Brian Darcy (guitar), David McEnroe (bass), Ollie Murphy (drums).
I first came across them on a sweltering hot day in July 2013 when they supported Mumford & Sons at their concert in Phoenix Park and was instantly drawn to their high-energy stage presence, interesting indie rock style, and not to mention the rare sight of a female at its fore front.
They have released three studio albums since their formation – Carry the Meek (2008), White Fox (2010), and most recently Stories from the Surface (2015), which reached No.1 in the Irish album charts. All of their albums were released on the band’s own independent label – Route 109A Records.
The band stands out from a visual perspective because of its petite pixie-like vocalist Niamh Farrell, with her powerful yet sweet vocals and commanding presence. She certainly proved on Saturday’s gig that she can hold her own while sharing a stage with seven big bearded men.
Watching them onstage reminded me of the female-fronted bands that were heavily prevalent in the 90’s, such as the Pixies, Letters to Cleo, The Cardigans, No Doubt, and the Cranberries (to name but a few) all featuring powerful charismatic women in bands where all the other members are male. The genre of rock music is definitely lacking its power queens so seeing a female commanding the room with haunting vocals is certainly refreshing.
Playing a mix of old singles and new releases, Ham Sandwich showcased their distinctive version of indie rock. Their singles “Ants”, “The Naturist”, and “Models” are always great crowd pleasers; but they introduced their newer music with songs “Apollo”, “Fandingo”, and “Illuminate” from the new album. These are songs I hadn’t heard and was really impressed with the new material.
The audience also got a treat when the band covered Donna Summer’s 1977 hit “I Feel Love” which suited Farrell’s vocal style perfectly and gave the audience the feeling of being in a funky 70’s disco – but without the tack & cheese!
I was a fan before this gig and Ham Sandwich definitely did not disappoint.
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