Cashier No.9, Ed Zealous, Jane Brafords, John Darcy
Tonight sees the Limelight complex thrown open for the penultimate night of Belfast Music Week, with the Spring and Airbrake hosting Belfast Calling.
A dapper John D'Arcy opens, leaving his Great Bunch of Lads sidekicks to watch from the audience as he takes to the stage for a solo acoustic set of stick-in-your-head, well crafted tunes. With soft little love notes - More Like Me - and sweet songs such as Scotty and Pop Tart that are both lyrically sharp and wonderfully observant, it's clear that it's D'Arcy's personality and wit are equally responsible for his talent and his music. A lightly vaudevillian touch and a keen engagement with the audience brings it all together without the support of his band.
Next up is The Jane Bradfords, who are notably on form this evening with their brand of mild indie- electro. Looking determined and playing a pleasingly well performed set, they breeze their way through upbeat melodies and bubblegum-light synths, all offset by a crooning baritone from Deci Gallen that's not completely undeserving of a nod to the National's Matt Berninger. As the audience trickles in it's all very pleasant, and we're treated to a couple of new tracks from their upcoming album release alongside some of the more memorable older tracks, like Ninety Nine and Golden Ticket.
Fast, frantically energetic and snappy: Ed Zealous have kept up their momentum from their support slot at the previous week's Wolf Parade gig - and at this pace, no wonder they take a chat-lite approach to audience interaction. Getting stuck straight into business, Show Your Hands, Three Cheers and Thanks a Million fly by comfortably as they follow on from the Jane Bradfords with more of the new material good news.
By the time Cashier No.9 are due to take the stage, the Spring and Airbrake is packed, the audience lining up to take in their rolling alt-rock. Though an early mention in The Guardian that you should be filed next to Primal Scream, Happy Mondays and Stone Roses might make your music seem a tad pigeon-holed as early 90s nostagia, it pays to listen beyond the baggy, obvious psychedelics of When Jackie Shone that bring this reviewer hurtling back to vague, early teenage memories of Kula Shaker. Things have moved on: 42 West Avenue is country edged, with a slowly burning bounce of a rhythm that might persuade your feet to move beyond a shuffle into something resembling dancing. There's nothing boringly easy to define about it all; while the psychedelic element is still an imposing force, there's still much more happening in their songs to make Cashier No.9 at times as oddly pretty and wistfully engaging as they are capable of utilising vastly meandering, epic guitars. Certainly it's a gentle, great note to wrap up the night on, and whatever a whirlwind of Belfast Music Week has passed by, it at least starts to say its farewell with something worth leaving on.