Bell X1 at Islington Assembly HallCultureMusicLive music
One of the most-played bands on the Irish airwaves (second only to U2), Bell X1 are known for their playful lyrics and radio-friendly hooks. Last night’s London crowd sang along in their droves in a sold-out show at Islington Assembly Hall, one of only two UK dates on this tour.
Opening with mantra-chanting Fail Again, Fail Better from their newest album Arms, the four piece went on to play a set of posi-pop anthems to 800 people who, for the most part, sang along with them. Followed with another Arms track, Bring Me a Fire King, singer Paul Noonan led the group with charming charisma and strong, effortless vocals. But the spectators really started to get involved on Velcro, joining in for the final chorus and then the next song, The Great Defector – a rousing crowd favourite.
The tracks on the latest record kept coming with You’re Out of Love and The Upswing, but, although the musicians play tightly together, the unfamiliar numbers lost some of the energy that the crowd’s joyful chanting added to the older hits. An exception was I Go Where You Go, with additional vocals from guitarist David Geraghty, holding the audience’s attention with its low-key chorus and uplifting lyrics.
After the announcement of Leonard Cohen’s death yesterday, Noonan dedicated the next song to the long list of musicians that have passed away this year, launching into a celebratory tribute to David Bowie with a cover of Let’s Dance. He emphasised the need for a celebration – and those gathered took note, dancing until the end of the set. Another highlight was the riff-heavy Flame from their platinum 2005 release Flock, with a dazzling light show contributing to the party atmosphere.
It was a good effort from the Irish band, who will play a second gig at Islington Assembly Hall tonight due to popular demand. The show is enough to please their fans and possibly enough to gain some new ones – but don’t expect to be blown away.
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