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Bell X1 / Jape at Mandela Hall, Belfast

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ATL | 21:50 UK time, Wednesday, 21 December 2011



Bell X1 and Jape at Mandela Hall, Belfast Friday, December 16th 2011. It didn’t kick start straight away. While Jape’s opener “One of Those Days that Just Feels so Long” caught our attention, it took a little while for us to totally hand ourselves over to Jape’s curious rhythms and synthetic beats.

In the end, we’re grateful for a lively, enthusiastic set. 80’s synth and poppy guitar encouraged freaky dancing throughout the Mandela while that heavy reverb had the heart clapping along.

Comparisons to Beck are obvious but relevant and the familiar strains of “Floating” was an inevitable favourite while current single ‘Strike me Down’ seemed to leave the majority wanting more. In spite of the favour won over by tonight’s support act, Bell x1 were greeted fanatically by the crowd. “Hey Anna Lena”, from the current album, was a surprising opener, delivering slow electro beats and delicate keys. The hits arrived soon after, including a version of “Next to You” which faded suspiciously well into Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’. How sweet.

Paul Noonan’s rambling anecdotes go down a treat, with “Eve is the Apple of my Eye,” during which the acoustic guitar takes centre stage, being the first true 'moment'. Noonan juggles lead vocals, rhythm and guitar throughout, only stepping back to allow Dave Geraghty to perform “Built to Last.” As Dave’s solo work shines through, it proves incredibly moving moment as the set takes a different turn with its striped back, minimal feel.

An eclectic, varied collection of songs are performed, reflecting the progression Bell X1 have made over the years. It all fits together perfectly, with plenty of room for Dave’s harmonica, keys and haunting backing-vocals, the bands wise and metaphorical lyrics and the more electro feel that dominated recent releases. Noonan’s general demeanour is drawing us in further.

“Rocky Took a Lover” sweeps over the venue, making up a sublime encore alongside bouncy closer “Sugar High”. A perfectly tied together evening from support to main act then - the perfect early Christmas present.

Sara Larkham


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