Air, Cashier No. 9
I've witnessed Cashier No.9 morph from little more than Danny Todd with a laptop to the full-blown wallop of sound that's now made by five members on stage. Tonight, however, is the first time I've seen them away from their home turf, and here they seem a little less comfortable than usual.
Punters arrive throughout their set, and Danny Todd's vocal gets lost among the swell of sound, leaving Cashier at risk of becoming victims of the 'background' support slot. But they have tricks aplenty on the way.
'I Kid You Not' onto '42 West Avenue' and arriving at 'The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out', the guys effortlessly make these lush arrangements come to life. And for a crowd that was largely unaware of Cashier's existence an hour ago, the chat dies down and eyes veer towards the Carryduff troupe.
With a recent addition in the form of Ronan Quinn on 'beefing up the sound' duties, Cashier have more energy and depth live than ever before. They end on 'Goodbye Friend' with its epic build to a roar, leaving their impression and demanding the attention from new friends. The lights spring to life and the drums pound their way through people's consciousness to round up a performance well worthy of converting unexpected fans.
The atmosphere settles for the arrival of Air, but there's part of me that is a little skeptical. Jean-Benoit Dunckel stations himself behind a fort of keys and synths, dressed eloquently head to toe in pure white. Meanwhile Nicholas Godin swaps between keys, guitar and the sultry tone of his precision bass guitar throughout the gig. With a drummer in toe, I'm quickly taught a lesson, as Air are a much more powerful force live than I reckoned.
Full of charm and smiles, the pair seem to ooze perfection. Yet, there's still a real expression in what they play. Songs new and old are aired, with visuals changing for almost every song, giving them each a distinct presence. There's synth sounds that rattle your rib cage, ethereal vocals, that mysterious Air bass tone, perfectly picked acoustic guitar and smooth retro electric piano. Air 'sounds' seem to have burrowed into my mind, leaving the nerd in me in awe of tones and textures.
It's clear they're enjoying this as much as the crowd. At one stage Nicholas teases the crowd singing "thank you very much" into a vocoder to the melody of 'Kelly Watch The Stars' - followed by the classic itself. And that's the thing. Thankfully Air embrace their past as well as their present, and play the likes of 'Cherry Blossom Girl', 'Playground Love' and 'How Does It Make You Feel' amidst tracks from the recent 'Love 2' album like 'Be a Bee' and 'Do the Joy'.
With an encore including 'Sexy Boy' and 'La Femme D'Argent', it's clear why so many people are here on a cold, wet night in Dublin. They leave the stage visually chuffed at the reception they've just received, and I can't help but feel stupid for my earlier doubts.
'Merci Beaucoup' indeed!