Red Flare are a new group with The Undertones guitarist/songwriter John O’Neill and musician/artist Locky Morris, whose name is synonymous with visual art in Derry. They describe themselves succinctly, “These two exhibit a proclivity for noisy and beautiful collaged experimentation, restrained emotion and slow driving melancholia. Combined with this, some of the most powerful and delicate guitar hooks known to mankind and all backed by some very strange visuals indeed”…
Red Flare will be taking the stage on Thursday 30th April at the Distorted Perspectives Festival in Letterkenny.
I asked Locky what the Distorted Perspectives Festival meant to him;
“Great atmosphere! Could not be anymore ‘right a’ context ‘for’ us playing. Only a few miles down the road from where we both live. We saw Damo Suzuki last year and we were mightily blown away. Run by real music fans. We were delighted to be asked and if honest we have used this gig at this festival as the right place to get our shit together to kick off this new project of ours!”
Sadly, I won’t make it up to the Festival until the Friday afternoon, Locky has forwarded me an account of a recent gig by Red Flare which was written by Greg Sharkey entitled ‘The Long Good Friday’ at Sandinos in Derry Friday the 3rd April;
“The room went silent as Red flare kicked off the upstairs event shortly after 9pm. On stage with them was Rauiri O’ Doherty on bass and Conor Mc Carron on visual projection.
The opener, ‘Interiors’ was a slow, low tempo, beautiful track. The reverb of John’s guitar hooks, blending with Locky’s vocals and keyboards give the song a kind of dark, melancholic feel.
Next track, ‘More sky’, began with a very up-beat ‘Rare’ or ‘Portishead’, trip-hop vibe, before meandering into a kinda New Order sound.
The next little nugget, ‘Oneandnone’, had an instantaneous feel of The Velvet Underground, but with loads of reverb to a trip-hop beat.
‘Fake the cure’ was another beautiful song, which featured the creative sound of John’s guitar riffs along with the chilled keyboard vibe by Mr Morris. It had a very Eno and psychedelic feel.
The final and my favorite tune of the night, ‘Bell tree’, was hammered out, by John blazing on guitar and Locky fusing electronic sounds to a pounding tribal beat.
The pair alternated the vibe of this track so cleverly, you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was several individual songs. It fused punk with techno before climaxing into alternative dance, when Locky applied a slide to his guitar, enhancing the overall sound with extra reverb.
I said it after the last gig and I’ll say it again, this was a masterclass in experimental, alternative music, by two creative musicians at the top of their game. This exhibition of sheer class, has come about by a lot of hard work and immense creativity.
Commenting since the gig, on their future plans for Red Flare, Locky Morris said: “We’re finding our way. We’re seriously working on it. “We hope to have an album out by the end of the year.” On the vibe of their songs, he said: “The sounds are like, one day you’re in New York in the 70’s, and the next you’re on a psychedelic trip in San Francisco.”
Elizabeth Brown-Sallis, commented on the gig: “This is the type of music I reckon John O’ Neill always wanted to do.”
Sean Pemberton said: “I grew up listening to The Undertones, and loved John O’ Neill’s music, but this is the best I’ve heard of him since ‘Julie Ocean’ in 81.””