Two acts with the same intensity, drive and showmanship sharing the night as a double header is rare but with Damien Dempsey kicking off the Liverpool Irish Music Festival in fine form, there was only one way Amsterdam could go in a very atmospheric o2 Academy and that was to match the whirlwind that is the popular Irishman and give the local and travelling fans a night to really let go and be proud of.

Ian Prowse, Anna Jenkins, the ever superb Johnny Barlow, Dave Mastrocola, Deian Elfryn and Kevin Spurgeon, Helen Maher and Rachel Cooper, making a wonderful and impressive debut, really don’t know how to give a bad performance, let alone think that it might be acceptable to do so. Every gig is an event to be savoured and enjoyed, for the band as much as it for the loyal audience.  You may as well ask Ian Prowse and Johnny Barlow to appear at a Conservative Party dinner, it’s just as alien and unthinkable to do.

Coming on stage to stirring Amsterdam anthem, the band quickly fell into the moment, never once relenting in their approach to match Damien Dempsey’s intense and superb performance and never failing to do so. It wouldn’t be an Amsterdam gig without the classic Joe’s Kiss in the set list and with special guest Carl Hunter from The Farm coming on stage to join the ranks of musicians, the song set the scene for the rest of the night, emotional, forthright and entertaining.

With Fireworks, the life affirming Arm in Arm and Raid the Palace coming very early in the set, there was only one way to take the night to an even higher plateau and that was with a barnstorming Clash smash London Calling, with its wonderful imagery and the line “I live by the river” placed well within the lyrics, it always seems to get Liverpool audiences just that little bit more excited as they punch the air in salute to the Mersey.

With the promise of a best of album due out in the new year there was even space in the set for a couple of new songs to be played including one that promises to be on the album and one that went down an absolute storm with the crowd, the thrilling Power in the Darkness which even saw Ian Prowse dress for the occasion in a judge’s outfit that really hammered home the point.

Amsterdam always manage to make their gigs just that little bit more special each time they play and this was no exception as they invited Damien Dempsey to come back out on stage to join them for an inspiring version of Does This Train Stop on Merseyside.

The night was one of pure adrenalin and intensity. Amsterdam managed to prove time and time again why they are so highly thought of and continue to add to their legion of fans.

5 stars

Ian D. Hall