FWW, ICOF, LaFaro
Ok, it may be the second last night of the year, there may be an all-night party with your name on it the next night, and you may be unable to move without the aid of a giant crane following Christmas, but that's no excuse for not squeezing in another cracking gig before we call security and remove 2007 from the building.
And this is a cracking gig. Three bands, all of who could headline larger venues than this, and the general festive buzz is still in the air. Beginning with long-time ATL faves (and current two-time holders of bestest band in NI award), LaFaro, the evening starts with an onslaught that barely lets up over the course of the rest of the night. Despite their often scary music (loud grungy three-piece with Jonny howling like a demented dog who's not been informed that the vet has run out of anaesthetic prior to his operation), they're in good form tonight, happily trading insults with the audience, and bantering away in between tracks. As for the songs themselves 'The Girl Is A Drummer' is primal grunge rock and 'Relate Before You Consummate' is well, your granny probably wouldn't approve. It's heavy, grungy, punky at times, and all anger and fire, but intelligent with it. A rawer Sonic Youth if you will. And it's their usual great time as a show.
The difficult job of following up LaFaro goes to In Case Of Fire, the long struggling time-served boys from Portadown, who, following more ups and downs than the average sports fan, seem to be getting somewhere. They deserve it, not just for their efforts, but for their songs. Their image may be a little clichéd - black shirts with white armbands feels a little old - but their music is up to date. There's more finesse than with our openers, the little samples dropped in between songs and the use of effects hints at a future shift in interesting directions, but their current material has enough to keep us happy. 'Plan A' and '2nd Revolution' are kick-ass tunes, and the overall idea is one of a less grandiose Muse - not a bad thing. 2008 looks like being a good year for these guys, but lighten up with it lads.
Headlining tonight are Fighting With Wire, those cheerful bunch of rapscallions (for two reasons, one - I like the word, and two - it suits them) bringing their big American rock to this tiny little venue. From their bantering, to their songs, it's hard not to have a smile on your face as you're watching these guys. 'Burning Bridges', 'So Confused', 'Contemplating Someone Else', new track 'In For A Penny', 'Sugar' - pick any of these and slap it on a big huge festival stage with the light show, and they wouldn't be out of place. Their brand of crowd and self-abuse may not go down too well outside Northern Ireland, but we don't care at the minute. If the world doesn't want them (and it would be stupid not to), we'll keep them.
And so we prepare to bid farewell to 2007, 2008 has a lot to live up to - come on then, impress us.