Bell X1 – Vicar St – Live Review
by Killian Laher
An ambitious move from Bell X1, playing three shows in one weekend, a full band show, one with strings, and finally this one, billed as an acoustic show. Support came from Pat Barrett, playing solo on guitar, playing versions of songs from his excellent Arrivalists album. Punctuating the songs with stories about his parents, Barrett’s rich voice and simple, yet effective guitar picking had the audience transfixed on songs like Little Triumphs, Threads and The Bees, where I could have sworn he slipped in a few lines from the late Stephen Sondheim’s Send In The Clowns. As well as the previously unheard The Heart of All That Matters, Barrett reached back to his Hedge Schools material, playing Lighthouse Lights Out and Good Ship Endeavour. There were few in the audience who weren’t moved, and hopefully, a few new fans were made.
Bell X1 have been around for 20 years or so and opened up with David Geraghty playing banjo on Alphabet Soup and a countrified West of Her Spine. Moving to piano for affecting versions of Bad Skin Day and Rocky Took A Lover, singer Paul Noonan threw in a few lines from Tom Waits’ Martha on the latter. Noonan and Geraghty’s guitars intermingled nicely on Daybreak and especially set closer I’ll See Your Heart And Raise You Mine, Geraghty providing almost Mark Knopfler-esque flourishes.
Although Paul Noonan is the focal point, the rest of the band lent a hand on vocals on slowed-down acoustic versions of Flame, and right back to Pinball Machine from their very first album. The encore featured a cover of Roy Orbison’s She’s A Mystery To Me, where each of the band took a turn on lead vocals, David Geraghty switching to the ukulele. They ended the set with a moody version of Eve The Apple of My Eye, and Geraghty added some Cure-like guitar to The End Is Nigh. The overall effect was like a throwback to the heyday of MTV Unplugged, in a good way. The set-up really emphasised the musicianship of the trio, and it was hard not to walk away impressed.
Categories: Gig Reviews, Gigs, Header, Music
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