From last week’s Irish Independent.
In A World more perfect than this one, The Posies would be superstars. Their music – lush, hook-laden indie-pop – screams out for daytime radio play. They write anthemic choruses and, when the need arises, can rock like lunatics.
As it is, the Seattle quartet must settle for fame by association. Ken Stringfellow, their lead songwriter, keeps as day job as REM’s touring guitarist. Recently, the band hooked up with Alex Chilton to revive his legendary power-pop group Big Star. In interview, journalists took to asking the reformed Big Star if they’d heard of this fantastic tribute act out of Washington State called The Posies.
They’ve been quietly influential too: you’ll detect traces of The Posies’ melody-driven rock in artists as diverse as Brendan Benson, Weezer and Hal. Twenty years hence, hip new bands will probably be name-dropping Stringfellow and his writing partner Jon Auer, and finally they’ll be cropping up on magazine covers and – God forbid – the radio. Right now, only indie-pop boffins and record-store owners have really taken The Posies to heart. Both tribes seem out in force tonight as the band kicks off their debut Irish tour.
Sweet-stained and dishevelled, the band shambles on stage, swigging beers and wearing lazy grins. For a cult band, The Posies are remarkably easy-going. They look as though they’ve already played a show and are staggering back for an encore. This, mostly, is an act of course; The Posies resemble slobs but play like virtuosos. From a bedrock of shimmering feedback, Auer and Stringfellow squeeze gorgeously complex melodies. For the first time in your life, you feel as though you are listening to a guitar being played properly.
Passionate and euphoric, The Posies throw out the loveliest greatest-hits set that never was. Many of tonight’s tracks have the air of generational torch-songs. Not recognising them makes you feel almost guilty. Between numbers, Stringfellow drinks from a whiskey bottle and Auer joshes with hecklers. The air of quiet awe in the room nonplusses him. The Posies are here to rock – why won’t the crowd get in the mood too?
To shake the audience out of it’s torpor, they deliver a searing slab of head-banger pop. It sounds like a soft-metal anthem written by Lennon and McCarthy and, for three-and-a-half minutes, is the best song you have ever heard.