Live Review: An Evening with Bell X1 @ Vicar Street

Posted: 23/11/2010 in Uncategorized

It’s been ten years since the release of Bell X1’s debut album Neither Am I, and to mark the occasion the band are embarking on a nationwide acoustic tour. ‘An Evening With Bell X1’ promises stripped down and re-worked versions of songs from their entire back-catalogue, as well as showcasing songs from the band’s forthcoming fifth studio album which is due for release early next year.

It’s a formal affair in Vicar Street tonight, the fully-seated capacity crowd advised in advance that there’d be no support act, that the band’s stage-time would be 8:30pm sharp, and that there’d even be an interval in the performance.

Bell X1 receive a hero’s welcome as they take to the stage, and without even greeting their audience it’s straight down to business with ‘Pinball Machine’.  Paul Noonan’s ever-distinctive voice is in stellar form from the offset – the simple backing of acoustic guitar, piano and bass allowing his vocals to shine.

The haunting refrains of the stunning ‘Bad Skin Day’ make for an early highlight. ‘Rocky Took A Lover’ picks up both the pace and the mood as it can always be trusted to do; and a hilarious battle with a loop pedal to set up the backing vocals for ‘The Ribs of a Broken Umbrella’ adds some unexpected comedy to the evening’s proceedings. A bluegrass-tinged version of ‘Flame’ is initially unrecognisable – a very interesting take on one of the band’s biggest songs to date.

As promised, some new songs are debuted – the standout being the beautiful ‘Built to Last’, with David Geraghty on lead vocal duty. Geraghty’s voice is deserving of prominence within the Bell X1 setup, and tonight’s gig gives a positive indication that it’ll be more of a feature on the band’s next album.

The crowd find their voice for the first time by taking on chorus duties for ‘The Great Defector’; but really the essence of tonight’s performance is appreciation over participation. The silence which descends on Vicar Street during both ‘In Every Sunflower’ and ‘I’ll See Your Heart & I’ll Raise You Mine’ is testament to the unwavering evocative nature of both songs; the acoustic renditions setting Paul Noonan’s beautifully crafted lyrics free from heavy production, and adding further strength to their meaning in the process. Fittingly, it is ‘Slowset’ – the standout track of Neither Am I – which closes out the set, and the band receive a thoroughly deserved standing ovation as they leave the stage.

A fantastic performance, which served not only to fuel anticipation for next year’s new album release, but also added a new dimension to the band’s catalogue of work to date.

  1. […] is set for release on 1st April 2010. The band premiered some of their new material during their acoustic tour last November – but in its raw form of just vocals, piano and acoustic guitar it was hard to gauge what […]

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