live review ~ hidden machine 03 ~ in an instant | 'a light you know and love' ep launch with affleck & c-beams (part 1)

29th May 2014. Only three or four days off the 1st anniversary of Bangor's In An Instant's first ever gig at The Menagerie, Belfast. Despite being in the embryonic stage of band development, the three school friends gathered on stage (Mark Hegan, Ryan Davison and Andrew Rutledge) happened to leave a surprisingly vivid imprint on the memory of the crowd. There was something in the way the frontman handled himself, so assured, so determined, so totally in the moment. The drumming? Tight as is imaginable, never missing a beat, while the lead guitarist danced through the soaring melodies like a seasoned veteran. Thankfully Blast 106 and BBC broadcaster James Magill was there to witness that momentous moment, and in a beautifully ironic twist just one year later it was his and Nikki MacRae's Hidden Machine gig night that would provide the backdrop to their deserved rise, as the band went full circle.

In local music terms, very few gigs make the leap from excellence to legendary. And So I Watch You From Afar's final farewell to Tony Wright, in which he was literally carried by the crowd from the stage of the Ulster Hall to it's grand exit was one. A Plastic Rose's final Belfast gig before their move to Nottingham another, in which social convention was dismissed in favor of wild swinging off amps and lighting equipment in Radar, Queens Student Union. Rams Pocket Radio moving a tent full of strangers to tears and spontaneous hugging at the final ever Glasgowbury could not be forgotten. Then there's Snow Patrol, perhaps our greatest ever export. Our lasting legacy to the greater musical landscape of Britain, Ireland and beyond, returning for a glorious homecoming, not in the capital city, but in Bangor's Ward Park. We can now add In An Instant's debut EP launch for Hidden Machine - Voodoo, Belfast to that list.

In An Instant released their long awaited debut EP 'Light You Know And Love' to a full house in Voodoo to headline Hidden Machine. With long established Affleck and respected songwriter Paul Shevlin's (formerly of Hologram) new outfit C-Beams supporting, it may have been understandable if the pressure of the evening took it's toll on this very young band. What instead happened was simply extraordinary. What this reporter witnessed tonight is an incredibly rare occurrence indeed. A night when seven months of toil, agonizing detail and drained emotions finally concluded in a crescendo of passion, adoration and utter resplendence.

In An Instant provided a performance that may well be considered as the start of something very special indeed. For those lucky enough to have been in the building (and fittingly, it was packed to the rafters) they will have witnessed a sound with the potential to fill the echoes of arenas, so explosive, raw and heartfelt in equal measure. The audience present were a pleasant mixture of home grown and Belfast based fans, where in a poetic act of friendly banter each member had been given a song which the crowd sung at the top of their voices before the band took to the stage. Much like a triumphant football teams victory parade, it was hard to move anywhere near the stage without hearing chants of 'Ricky, Ricky C!' or "Hegan is our leader!'. 

Each song carries its own distinct energy, so painstakingly crafted that sonically pushes this young band beyond many of their older contemporaries. This is not for one moment to suggest In An Instant lack stage presence, on the contrary the performance element of tonight's show was perhaps their strongest quality. As for every perfectly executed guitar solo or accurate drum fill, there was a raised arm clenched in a desperate hold onto every lyric from Hegan. There was an invigorating hand clapping signal from Crawford (who's falsetto'd backing vocals elevated the brooding middle eighth of lead single 'Something Right and Something Real') or a Johnny Marr styled flick of the head from Davison that showed just how much it means to this band to satisfy every person in the room, at all times. It's these moments an audience will never forget and these flickering memories that last far longer than a tight, though ultimately hollow performance ever could.

When opener 'Lovers Apart' comes crashing into its stunning flow, the intensity and epic qualities of this young four piece are showcased in their purest form. The severe emotional overhaul of 'Boundaries' builds to a pinnacle of mesmerising passion, while the encore's ready made hit 'All Binds Fall Undone' proved a justified finale. Indeed, in a loving act of compassion further encompassing Hegan's humble nature and lack of ego, he dedicated this closing number to his assembled family. A touching moment. There was even time for a completely unknown track to make it's debut, 'Keep On Moving With Your Heart In Place', a song so new the lyrics were apparently completed only the night before. So what must it have been like for this band to hear an audience singing the chorus back to them by the end of it? A track they are supposedly, 'still working on' and will only continue to grow into their live set.

Thinking about it now, the last young band we had carrying this sort of hype happened to be from Bangor as well. They didn't do too badly actually.

Tonight was something truly special. Something to live long in the memory.
Something Right And Something Real...

Taylor Johnson

If you like ~ Snow Patrol | U2 | Two Door Cinema Club ~ You'll love In An Instant

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