live review ~ hidden machine & chordblossom presents...silences single launch

In a country as small as ours, there’s a certain inevitability about the intimacy of the music scene; and yes, we’re not as big as Dublin or London, but for punching above our weight Belfast cannot be beaten. Last Friday night we witnessed another of our overachievers in full flight, the awesome Silences. Launching their new single ‘The Sea’ (Review here) our expectations were understandably high. Better still, the collaboration between one of our best gig promoters Hidden Machine & our friends at Chordblossom ensured a stellar line-up throughout. Now it was the bands turn to live up to the hype…

Tasked with opening the show was Jealous Of The Birds, a solo acoustic artist of sublime simplicity. Jealous Of The Birds (real name Naomi Hamilton) reputation has led to many proclaiming her the next big thing, remarkably before even a single live performance. Not a bad way to make your debut then, playing to a near packed out Bar With No Name in support of one the country’s most exciting new bands. It was a pivotal moment, as bohemia’s new hope could so easily have welted in the spotlight. Thankfully here we saw an artist so intrinsically relaxed, so totally at ease, that it felt like nothing more than a bedroom jam with a couple of friends. Songs from debut Ep ‘Capricorn’ radiated back to the audience, any worries that Hamilton’s low-fi sound would be lost on stage immediately put to bed. There wasn’t a great deal of chat between songs, but enough to show this was a performer in her element. In all, Jealous of the Birds justified her well deserved praise. The faint shimmers of nostalgia which run through her songs gives proceedings a timeless element, and rightly so.

Following behind were Dandy’s Loft, another band making their rather big debut. Again, this band showed a wonderful confidence throughout a set of varying velocity. Any band willing to combine electric guitars with a ukulele will always command a certain amount of respect, but even without this wonderful juxtaposition, Dandy’s Loft had this audience won over from very early on. Dublin’s Patrick O’Laoghaire , aka ‘I Have A Tribe’, is another young artist with a big following.  Already beloved by his home city and interestingly Berlin, I Have A Tribe’s Bjork like melodies and gentle grace behind the keyboard was pretty beautiful. Dressed in an oversized jumper, O’Laoghaire looks and sounds like the finished product, the single ‘Yellow Raincoats’ particularly so.

So finally onto Silences, a band really beginning to make waves across the mainland UK. On a night of quality performances, our headliner did not disappoint. Frontman Conchúr White led his band through a blaze of enthusiasm, whether head banging along to his own creations or thrashing the extra bass drum on stage, it was as rocky a performance as Silences are ever likely to have given and what a welcome surprise it was. They of course know how to hype up the crowd, as singles ‘Santa Cruz’ (“You can sing along to this next one, you just need two words. One’s ‘Santa’, the other one’s ‘Cruz’”) and ‘The Sea’,  went down wonderfully with the audience. At one bizarre point, we saw what their frontman described as “Silence’s first ever mosh-pit”, so to was the extent of their energy.

This was the performance of a band on the rise, feeling every song and feeding off the crowd.

With acts like this, it looks like we will be continuing to punch above our weight for some time yet.

Taylor Johnson

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