Halfway through The Flaws set and cherub faced front man Paul Finn asks the audience, "ya, didn't come here to watch us, did ya?" It's a rhetorical question. At the outset of the evening the name The Flaws will have registered with only the slightest fraction of the crowd, however, their concise, potent, indie-rock soon grabs the attention of many in Spring & Airbrake, resulting in a flurry of elbows to ribs and echoing chorus of what are these lot called?
These captains of the hook lay down their contemporary take on Eighties' alt-rock, all Smiths' jangle, clattering R.E.M.' melodies and Bunnymen' sense of dark claustrophobia. Judging by the sentiments of '1981' and 'Sixteen' they've a weakness for the ladies, especially the sort that promise happiness as a prelude to stamping all over your little heart. Gee that hurts, but it sure sounds tuneful. In fact, to say the Flaws have promise would be to damn with faint praise.
For the Thrills these are uncertain times. Sure they've sold out tonight, but last time they played Belfast it was the Ulster Hall. What's more, each album since 'So Much For The City' has enjoyed an increasingly lukewarm response from public and press alike. But, despite these concerns, they can at least warm themselves on the rapturous response they receive this evening.
They open with 'The Midnight Choir', a mandolin fired, heavenly hymn. Like the other tracks from new album, 'Teenager', it's no grand departure from what theyï¿½ve written before. But then, why stray too far from the gorgeousness of songs like 'Big Sur' and 'One Horse Town' both of which draw a salivating, bark of delighted response from the crowd. Dapper frontman, Conor Deasy, does his damndest to keep the audience stoked, telling us how pretty we are and thanking us for "not forgetting". The boy's good, whipping up passions as assuredly as a dominatrix.
They could never be accused of being innovators, but with finale, 'Whatever Happened to Corey Haim' the Thrills do at least remind us that, in the age of 'nu' this, 'neu' that and 'new' the other, there's no replacing old-fashioned virtues like heart, soul and good song-writing.