We're in McHughs basement for the launch of 'The Rifles EP' from the Lowly Knights, a twelve strong ensemble who boast an interesting array of noise makers including a choir, cello, and double bass. There is a feeling in the room that we are about to witness something a bit different, a crop of new song writers are emerging, confidently tackling the less travelled road in Northern Irish popular music, a road where pioneers like Duke Special and the Amazing Pilots successfully beat a trail for them.
Then, as if on cue, Mr Hobo-Chic himself enters the room, and the atmosphere reaches an unquenchable buzz as he approaches the stage to bring to life the familiar plink of the piano. "The Lowly Knights are coming", sings Peter Wilson, "riding stars across the sky/The Lowly Knights are coming in the blinking of an eye". It's a wonderful compliment and the perfect way to start the show.
To have such a highly acclaimed songwriter such as Duke Special launch your set may worry some bands, after all he could, quite unintentionally steal the show. But not the Lowly Knights, they take their positions and reaffirm that tonight is about 'The Rifles EP' and more.
Squeezed into a tiny space, they are literally tripping over each other. Physically they resemble an Amish community, only appearing much cooler, with the boys in finer cut waistcoats, and the girls in tighter skirts. And although they wouldn't be considered a Christian band, there is an underlying reference to their faith in the music. They proceed to let the songs come alive, one by one from the hand clapping, choir-backed 'Devotion' fit to walk hand in hand with Arcade Fire, to the beautiful chug along country bluegrass groove of 'Baby, Don't Leave Me'.
To the delight of many they decide to extend their set by reliving their reinvention of 'Drain You' by Nirvana, an utterly unique take on a song from a completely different style. It is a perfectly enjoyable, screwed up mash and clash of the song, and we love it. Finally they leave us with a couple of older tracks, most notably 'Miracle' a wonderful stomper that should never no matter what else they produce, be confined to the archives of past EPs.
The Lowly Knights are not perfect; there were times during their set, when we wanted them to push that little bit harder. To speed up the tempo or wreck a few heads with all the talent that is so clearly on display. But it is merely a chink in some shiny new armour; the Knights are young, with hopefully, a long time ahead of them to bring out that something you simply cannot put your finger on. But be in no doubt that they are coming, and judging by the turn out tonight they have already arrived for many of us.