Mojo Fury - The Empire, Belfast
The Empire, Belfast
Thursday 11th October 2012
With an evening of serene, stripped-back songs ahead of us, it seems altogether apt that the upcoming and established talent on the four-act bill – with a little outside influence thrown in for good measure – takes place at Belfast’s exquisite Empire Music Hall. With its baroque, wonderfully antiquated setting and decidedly intimate feel, the acoustic efforts of tonight’s superlative line-up should manifest themselves in a subtler, more blasé manner than we are familiar.
Prone to brasher, fuzzier set-ups, Belfast-based three-piece Chocolate Love Factory prop themselves and steadily reveal the subtleties and sheer range of ideas inherent in their music across several songs tonight. With small pockets of melody usually concealed with fuzz and ferocity coming to the fore throughout, superbly honed harmonies on ‘Green’ and new track ‘Burn’ impress. Even better, drummer John Quinn doubles up as pianist/synthist on a few tracks, most notably on an untitled new track that hints ever further at the band’s purposeful progression towards a more refined brand of rock.
With acoustic bass and mini bongo in tow, Lisburn/Belfast four-piece Like Statues continue the theme of stripped-back rock propelled by rigorously rehearsed harmonies. With the venue slowly filling with eager onlookers, the band’s otherwise progressive post-hardcore takes on a much more immersive character; frontman Clark Philips’ soaring vocals coming to the fore on each track with ease. With lead guitarist Jordan Watson expressing the band’s gratitude at supporting one of his favourite bands, Like Statues’ shifting, imaginative, tacitly transposed songs ensures warm applause and cheers from an appreciate audience.
Despite damaging the neck of his 15 year-old acoustic guitar before taking to the stage, singer-songwriter Dave McPherson – perhaps best known as frontman with English alt rock heroes InMe – proves a genuine revelation from the moment he eases into his set. In between boundlessly emotive covers of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ and ‘Boom Boom Shake The Room’ (you had to be there), his charm, wit and manner of control the crowd are all – incredibly – immaterial compared to his supremely soulful vocal prowess. Whilst some of his chord progressions lack the overt majesty he possesses vocally, tonight’s crowd are widely enamoured by the latter; so much so that, nearing the very end of his set, one can’t help but forget McPherson is not headlining tonight.
All things considered, however, there’s no question that Mojo Fury is the act almost everyone in attendance is here to see. Needlessly apologising for four or five new tracks that get an airing tonight, Mike Mormecha is, as ever, on stellar form throughout, spearheading the band’s idiosyncratic, meticulously mapped-out sound. Whilst a hypnotic cover of the Korgi’s ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime’ and a particularly poignant ‘We Should Just Runaway’ prove their most quietly enthralling efforts, it’s ‘Colour Of The Bear’ with its percussive-heavy breakdown that ensures tonight’s doting reception. Full of cosy breakdowns, nocturnal tangents and delectable bursts of supremely melodic, inimitably executed acoustified rock, album number two cannot come soon enough…