I Am Not Lefthanded, Kitty and the Can Openers, Paul Shevlin
Fitting, given the glorious summer weather yesterday, that last night Lavery's Bunker was all a-shimmer with the irresistibly summery sounds of several of the most uplifting and beguiling bands on the scene at present. Adding to the cherishable nature of the evening was the fact that the crowd was a small but receptive one, and though at times they exhibited a few of the usual unfortunate characteristics of a typical Belfast crowd - i.e. talking a little too loudly at inappropriate moments - the stage and what was happening on it, remained the centre of attention all evening.
Opening in a most inconspicuous manner, Paul Shevlin soon had the small crowd enthralled with his opening piano-led melodies. Proof, if any were needed, that piano-based songs can still be effectively utilised to startling and centre-staged effect, Shevlin thrashed and tinkled his way through a small but big-hearted set that included captivating and bouncy new single 'Goodmorning'. Paul was joined on stage by a drummer and bassist and the three shared gentle banter between each unabashedly romantic and wonderfully constructed song that veered between piano pounding intensity and softly tinkling melancholia.
Up next on the prettily lit stage were indie-folksters Kitty and the Can Openers. Ciara O'Neill's radiant and dulcet voice held sway over proceedings throughout their set, as the band kicked out a few recognisable favourites and even some brand new songs. Tightly woven, oddly groovy and never anything short of compelling, the band tiptoed their fairy-lit way through a candied, charming and increasingly rousing roster that included the nostalgia laden, gloriously finger-picked 'Roll On Yesterday' and the darkly sultry and chic 'She Reads Magazines'.
The mainly Irish, London-based three-piece I Am Not Lefthanded finally took to the stage in what seemed like an all-too brief evening of sublime music. Exhibiting a warm and engaging stage presence, singer Kathryn Williams and bassist Daniel Frazer shared anecdotes and good-natured banter with one another and the audience, and this went some way to making a collection of already deeply personal songs, that little bit more so. Awash with catchy, sparklingly irresistible compositions, I Am Not Lefthanded performed a collection of the kind of uplifting and melodically soulful songs they are fast becoming famed for.
Opening with the illuminating and chiming 'Endline (Choose Nothing)', the tone of the remainder of the night was set: quietly resplendent, self-assured and shimmering sweet pop tunes. Highlights included the jangling 'Long Goodbyes', the bass-heavy 'The Place That Won't Take Me Back', and the delicately sobering but beautiful 'Lifelines' - a raw and discreet subversion of the usual 'break-up song'.
The band closed with the appropriately anthemic and uplifting crescendo of an updated version of 'Boatsbutnottheocean', with its rippling piano, shimmering guitars and a welcome extended segment of increasingly pounding drums; ensuring shivers whispered down the spines of all those present. An acapella rendition of Deathcab for Cutie's 'I Will Follow You Into The Dark' did just that, as the night came to an end and the audience began to trickle out into the balmy night with the sounds of the impending summer still ringing irresistibly in their ears.