Pic: Alex Millar

by Alex Millar

Like a phoenix, MAKO have risen from the ashes of two of Ireland’s great rock bands. Their music has evolved from their constituent parts, while keeping the best bits of what they used to be. The result is electrifying, as anyone who caught them in De Barras’ Sitting Room last week will testify.

Spearheaded by three-fifths of Cyclefly and backed by two-fifths of Rulers of the Planet, (but one Cycefly member short on the night) the band has an impressive pedigree. Cyclefly being arguably the most popular band to have come out of Cork in the last decade, and Rulers of the Planet don’t sit far behind. MAKO’s ancestry promises a lot. And luckily, they deliver.

Having caught the band numerous times in the last year or so, the prospect of seeing them in acoustic session was intriguing and they didn’t disappoint. Singer Declan O’ Shea’s normal stage presence wasn’t hindered by the intimate setting of the Sitting Room; he remains as evocative as ever.

He exudes a considerable amount of charm and presence. Whether he’s gyrating on a massive outdoor stage or singing quietly in a cosy venue in West Cork, he never loses his connection with the audience. It’s the sign of a true entertainer.

The quality of MAKO’s sound doesn’t suffer when stripped back either. Previous releases such as ‘Unstoppable’ translate quite nicely into the acoustic setting, as do album tracks like ‘Grace’, and the band as a whole seem very comfortable when stripped back to their bare musical bones.

MAKO haven’t been slacking of late. They’ve released two singles in the last year, ‘Unstoppable’ and ‘Miss Alison’, both of which have received attention in the national press. ‘Unstoppable’ is a mid-tempo straight up rock song with an acoustic edge while ‘Miss Alison’ is altogether more funky with sparse guitars; not at all similar to the Cyclefly sounds of old.

So all in all, their hard-rock verbosity has waned a bit since the Cyclefly and Rulers days but their ability to capture melodies and filter them down into intricate songs hasn’t faltered. Maybe it’s age that’s made them lose their hard-rock edge, but it seems more like experience. They know where they want to be and they’re still a force to be reckoned with.