The Elliots, Cutaways, Catoan, Boathouse
Some day, we may all have a little Boathouse in our soul. The intent is decent, the energy levels are considerable and some of the tunes are blinders. They produce an accordion, a trumpet and a flute. A xylophone is mangled and guitars sing out. The best bits are when they rhythm locks into a four-to-the-floor fever and the music stampedes to an emotional conclusion.
'Johnny And Ruth Story' has the narrative rush of the Hold Steady and the spark of the Arcade Fire. This is naturally a great thing. A couple more songs are also rich with possibilities. There's a latent Roy Orbison dimension, while the dynamic between singers Gerry and Amy is swell. 'What I Remember' is an actual heart breaker.
Catoan arrive with a bold cacophony. It's the chance to launch their album 'And Will I' and to establish that this is not a singer-songwriter slumming it with a few other musicians. Therefore it's a chance to let the guitarist to wire out some abstracted signals while the sax blows through the gaps and the song 'Femme Fatale' is given a radical refit.
For the most part, it's a fascinating call. Occasionally, the band members are riffing exclusively for their own fun and the audience isn't encouraged to follow the experience. Hence the outbreak of chatter, which serves nobody well. But if Catoan can ration the noodles and prune the melodic curlicues, it might work well for them.
There's no extraneous meat on the Cutaways music. Every song is wholly designed to propel the chorus, to chase the pulse and to extract a smile. They recall peppy acts like Cheap Trick and Weezer and the addition of Chris on bass provides an additional wheeze.
'Memories Of Radio' has lasted well, while the likes of 'New Golden Rules' and 'Race For Grace' are junior classics. They signal their goodbyes with the tumult that is 'What We Lost In The Process'. Paul is on his back, doing the dying fly while Chris throws the shapes and Angie tries to hold a bit of decorum.
Top credit to the Gifted team who have delivered a strong bill and a supportive mood in the hall. That sustains for The Elliots, who also favour the fast song, the jerky confessions and the powerpop regulations. Still not sure about the black slacks and white belts. I don't know that we would even accept that from The Feeling.
They bellow '17', carry off a ballad late into the night and survive some technical problems. Sometimes it's overly frantic, but the crowd seems happy as Belfast mutates into a strangely unfashionable prom party.
Photos by Stuart Bailie