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General Fiasco at the Mandela Hall

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ATL | 16:23 UK time, Monday, 31 October 2011



General Fiasco, Yes Cadets and the Wonder Villians
Mandella Hall, Belfast
30th October, 2011

There is a buzz about Belfast as it prepares for all the glamour that comes with hosting the MTV Awards and the opportunity to showcase the fine local talent we have to offer.  Tonight is the beginning of Belfast Music Week and is an extremely tasty 'amuse-bouche' to what the coming days have in store.

Originally planned for Speakeasy, the gig has been moved to the bigger Mandela Hall due to the high demand for tickets for the homecoming and final night of a short UK tour for the General Fiasco boys. They are joined tonight by Derry's pop-tastic Wonder Villains and Belfast based electro four piece Yes Cadets who have both supported them on the whole tour.

It somehow seems quite fitting that somewhere in the crowd Barney Rubble and an Oompa-Loompa are in deep conversation as the Wonder Villains take to the stage on the eve of Halloween. There is a certain charm about the Derry four piece that is so infectious it is virtually impossible not to like. They are riding a bit of a crest at the minute having national airplay on Radio One, a song played on Sky TV's Soccer AM and live set on sport channel ESPN. It's easy to see why they are getting the attention from further afield as Eimear introduces the instantly catchy 'Oh Peter' about a character from American sci-fi drama series Heroes.

Their keyboard based pop melodies seem to become indented on your brain at first listen and they continue to impress with songs like 'Space Jam' and the wonderful 'Zola' a homage to the pint sized footballer. They are band that make you want to smile, dance and just have a good time. They have an energy mixed with an excitability that is as if someone has opened up a bag of monkeys on stage and this is all echoed by the crowd as they leave to rapturous applause.

The venue is nearly at full capacity as Yes Cadets are given their chance to impress the home crowd. They open with a wonderful performance of favourite 'Canada' with its synth laden goodness as front man Alan sets out to work the crowd from the start. The male/female wispy soaring vocals work well together and its obvious why their modern Foals - Esq sound is receiving widespread interest. However maybe somewhere along the lines it got lost tonight with a younger 14 plus crowd as the middle of the set seemed to go through a slight lull. They pulled it back well though finishing strongly with songs like the edgy 'Le Mans' and are sure to have taken home some new supporters.

After quite a long turn around we are finally ready for our main event. General Fiasco open up with 'We are the Foolish' and pretty much lift the roof off with the first strum of a guitar. With added Stuart Bell (former Panama Kings guitarist) they seem to have developed a bit more of a maturity about them, yes the old classics like 'Ever So Shy' are still included in the mix and lapped up by the adoring crowd but it's the new material from the up and coming EP release which make more of an impression. Hollows is a beautiful crafted pop song, whilst ‘The Age You Start Losing Friends’ shows a new side to General Fiasco as Owen delivers a ferocious almost punk vocal. ‘Waves’ may be a hint of where things will be going on the next album.

 The crowd are in wonderful voice as the full band is swapped for just Owen and his acoustic guitar for ‘Sinking Ships’ and a moshpit erupts into chaos as songs like 'Dancing with Girls' and 'Something Sometime' from the first album threaten to cause a mass brawl. They return to the stage for an encore, finishing on the infamous 'Rebel Get By' which seemed like the whole of Belfast was singing it back to him. A fine performance from a band whose life on the road has made them an undoubtedly tight unit.

Steve Smith


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