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The Drums, Violens
Violens kick off the night's revival themed antics with the drum intro to the Cure's Hanging Garden. Then the guitar kicks in, clipped and held at a Sumneresque angle. There's the bass up front and low down and the keyboard player is wearing a rather fetching jumper.  Yes folks, it seems that the death notice of the post-punk revival was somewhat premature.

While hailing from hip New York, Violens are the most English sounding American band since Bravery, Repetition and Noise era Brian Jonestown Massacre. And like the Swinging London scenes in Austin Powers they haven't quite got it right - the Libertines sit beside the Cure, Joy Division hobnob with Ride.

And out of this unlikely hotchpotch comes something pretty special. While the tunes are undoubtedly there, Violens specialise in atmosphere. Bags and bags of it, what with walls of guitar sound that veer between Slowdive style dreampop and Bends era Radiohead guitar shredding. Jorge Elbrect's falsetto recalls 90's couldabeens Puressence or her from Geneva. It's a very strong performance and might prove difficult to top.

Did we say difficult? Nah, not for the Drums. After an indeterminable wait (where the more excitable members of the crowd cheer the Drums' drum tech) the stage fills with smoke and a lighting rig that wouldn't look out of place on an aircraft carrier glares up. Then a synth into that would make Bono blush and ATL puts on his best �go ahead - impress me' face on. Only to have it promptly melted off.

Because when Best Friend kicks in we realise two things - that Jonathon Pierce is a bone fide star and that the Drums are a top notch pop band. Flouncing round the stage with a flamboyance that makes Jarvis Cocker look like Ivan Drago, he instantly captures the audience's attention, prompting hysterical screaming from the younger, female portion of the audience and wry smiles from the more experienced.

And the tunes just keep coming, with more hooks than a fishing tackle warehouse. With one EP and one album under their belt, the Drums keep the pressure up, with only a slight sag around the middle of the set with some frankly superfluous b-sides and rarities. This is, of course, nitpicking as the band set a soundtrack to an idealised 80's beloved of John Hughes fans.

Songs like Forever and Ever just smack of that final scene in a coming of age comedy-drama, that bit at the end where we all find out that we've learned something and that, while we didn't get what we wanted, we've got what we need. This is near the pinnacle of guitar pop, a million miles away from the landfill indie that's blighted the record shops for far too long.

We didn't know what to expect from the Drums, but walked away vocally impressed, the crowd reaction was bordering on madness and in one stroke they managed to unite the skinny jeans massive with the older souls wearing their vintage Cure T-shirts. Roll on the next album.

Shane Horan

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Gig Details
Venue: The Mandela Hall
Location: Belfast
Date: 3/12/2010

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