gig review ~ blackstaff music presents... fionn crossan, search party, fox colony & red house

This week our reporter Connor Martin headed down to Alexander's Bar, Lisburn, to check out the latest Blackstaff Promotions  showcase...

On a blustery night here in Lisburn opening act Red House continued their upward trajectory  with an electric set. Their first song was a new one, 'Scorpion Woman', but it immediately slotted in with their growing body of original material. The standard of songwriting and musicianship in this band continues to amaze, particularly considering their age. 

I have to say, despite a rather subdued crowd, I moshed myself silly, only enhancing this young band's reputation for producing a fun, energetic live show. The sheer joy of making music shines through in every note they play. Second on the bill were Fox Colony, a three piece from Belfast. These relative newcomers impressed with their hooky and atmospheric pop punk. Like Modern Baseball, their songs seem to create a little world of fuzzy guitars, clattering drums and an angsty solidarity for the audience to really get in to.

Highlight of the set came through debut single 'The Weekend'. I look forward to seeing what happens as this band continues to grow in confidence... there is so much promise here!

Next up was punk-new comers Search Party. Lead singer Sean McDonnell broke a string during the first song from sheer enthusiasm. This band (who have just released the excellent EP 'Life is Art') have improved leaps and bounds since I last saw them. They are tighter, faster, leaner. Sean's voice has found new power, and new lead guitarist Ethan Murphy consistently manages to push things further than before. 

Bass player Ryan Pendleton has also come on, contributing a rock solid low end thump, particularly evident on the awesome 'Coming Alive'. Special mention must go, however, to drummer David Malone. A lesser musician might have phoned in such a sparsely attended show, whilst David did not. Put simply, he beat the hell out of the kit and I commend him for it. As Sean said at the opening of Search Party's set, "We may not have gotten all of Lisburn out tonight", but it was, frankly, their loss. 

Finally came headliner Fionn Crossan, remarkably composed and confident beyond his eighteen years. In a set which ranged between tranquil fragility and blustering folk, Crossan's alluring vocals and relaxed demeanor endeared him to the small crowd before a note had even been sung. Opening number 'Siblings' and penultimate tale 'Chased By Wolves' may have been set highlights, but Crossan's carefully chosen covers also made for some wonderful listening, particularly with his total reinvention of the Springsteen classic 'I'm On Fire'. 

As a debut headline show the Mallusk teenager could do no more, making it all the more frustrating that there weren't more people there to enjoy his maudlin tales. From this performance, a future of attentive crowds in much bigger venues looks almost a certainty; and with a debut  EP not too far into the distance, Fionn Crossan may just get there sooner, rather than later.

Connor Martin

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