General Fiasco, Two Door Cinema Club
There's a very, very good reason why I queued up in the freezing cold outside the Stiff Kitten on the night of St Stephen's. I could have been tucked up in front of a fire watching some fine Christmas films on the telly. Instead, I went to see two of the hottest bands in Northern Ireland. Two Door Cinema Club and General Fiasco are planning to take the UK, and indeed the world, by storm in 2009 - on the basis of this performance they've got a pretty good chance.
Two Door, as always, got the party started with their delightful little mix of drum machines, driving guitars and occasional keyboard solos. There were a couple of small technical problems and there was a small delay as the lead guitarist broke a string, but the trio fly through a wonderful and polished set. New material is tucked in between old classics: one of the best songs of the night (called 'Kids', according to the ripped piece of cardboard that passes for a setlist) promises great things from this band. The new single 'Something Good Can Work' is destined to be huge in 2009: a memorable melody, an anthemic chorus and it's simply an excellent song. The biggest cheer of the set came at the last for 'Undercover Martyn' - Northern Irish indie rock at its finest, coupled with hand claps. Every time I see this band they're something different - their sound shifts from the Cribs to Death Cab to Kowalski - but they're always unmistakably brilliant.
General Fiasco have had a lot of hype and attention in the local music press - and I can safely say, in my eyes it's justified. Rigsy wrote this article in mid 2008 and it seems he's got it spot on. The lads blew nearly all of us to the wall last night. What's the difference between General Fiasco and the hundreds of local bands knocking about Northern Ireland? They've got the look: black t-shirts, cool hair and confident but not arrogant attitudes. They've certainly got the talent (more on that later). What's more, they've written some excellent material. Most of the songs we heard tonight had been recently written and they're really rather brilliant: there doesn't seem to be any filler whatsoever and the crowd loved every tune. The new single 'Something Sometime' is infectious and shows off the distinctive sound of the trio. There aren't any passengers in General Fiasco: Owen (with surprisingly strong vocals), Enda and in particular Leaky (with some incredible drumming) seem to give their all in every song. Of course, when 'Rebel Get By' finishes off the set, the lads have got the crowd in the palm of their hand.
Take a bow, gentlemen, the world is at your feet. If you haven't seen General Fiasco yet live, you really, really, really, really should.