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Oh Yeah Contenders - Ulster Hall Group Space, Belfast

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ATL | 15:12 UK time, Monday, 28 May 2012


Oh Yeah Contenders:
Silhouette, Katharine Philippa, Ryan Vail
Ulster Hall Group Space, Belfast 
Friday 25th May 2012

The crowd are promptly gathering in the intimate setting of the Group Space, within one of Belfast’s most prestigious venues. It has been a busy week for the Ulster Hall, what with the institution turning the grand old age of 150, and so the celebration continues with three of the finest, up and coming acts, to have emerged from the Northern Irish music scene this year.

First to take to the stage tonight is Derry electronica producer, Ryan Vail and his musical companion Katie Cosgrove. They start into an instantly atmospheric set of synthetic beats and breathy vocals, twisting down the road of retro shoe-gaze meets ambient dance. There is a raw feel to this sample filled set and Katie’s complimenting vocals, which are slightly underutilised, make for further depth. Amongst compositions of his own tracks, from both ‘Colours’ and ‘These Words’ EPs, we are treated to a down beat rendition of Gorillaz ‘Meloncholy Hill’ which makes for a fresh take on the Electro-pop hit.

After receiving justifiably astounding feedback from earlier in the week, having taken part in the Great Northern Songbook event, Katherine Philippa takes a modest presence at the front of the room. As she starts into her set with ‘Thinking of You’, it becomes instantly apparent that this girl has a gift. Her vocals are both strong and soulful, wrapping around passionate lashings of keys flawlessly.

The room is mesmerised by the Portadown born singer and composer, her vocal range is spine tingling in itself, with the tender moments giving nods to a young (and female) Jeff Buckley. It is very easy to get lost in the sheer beauty of it. She gives us a glimpse of some of her more recent tracks, along with ‘Whiter than I’, which stands out with its electronic set up. Katherine Philippa certainly knows how to silence a room.

The next act up tonight have been making a name for themselves on a huge scale here in Northern Ireland, between extensive radio play, sound tracking ads and an Irish tour, there is just no stopping Silhouette. They kick off the alternative-pop affair with as much enthusiasm and charisma as ever. It is a refreshing set up, with the electro-violin complimenting the keys to create catchy melodies, while the double bass joins with the drums to make a solid foundation.

Shauna Tohill’s vocals are flawless as she belts out, what could easily be, hit after hit. Upbeat arrangements are dominant for the most part, with the exception of ‘Under my Skin’ which touches on a more sorrowful side to Silhouette, but it isn’t long before the crowd are urged to clap along to turn “this sad song into a happy song”. Shauna hands over the keys to Eimhear Tohill, as she takes the mic and brings the set to a close with charisma and energy in equal measures. The last song of the night is ‘Running Against the Wall’, their next single, set for release later next month.

Sara Larkham


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