The Frames, Bronagh Gallagher
Glen Hansard's Commitments co-star Bronagh Gallagher opens the show on the first Irish headline show of The Frames's 20th anniversary tour since they kicked off proceedings at Electric Picnic in September. Her Brian Eno produced 'Precious Soul' album is a bit of a lost gem, a beautiful mix of country, blues and Memphis Soul, and tonight she performs songs from it, alongside material from her forthcoming follow-up.
The performance peaks with 'Believe Me', but ultimately the live sound can't quite match the magical production of the record. Her voice sounds at its best when she steps out from drum kit to the front of stage to sing new song 'Mexico', a song apparently finished just ten minutes before going on stage. There's certainly enough here though to whet our appetites for her own headline show in the Black Box next month.
The Frames have had a long relationship with Belfast, with Hansard frequently mentioning from the stage how much the band love playing here. When they appear, they're all smiles, clearly delighted to be gracing the stage and performing again as The Frames, following an extended time on the road on Swell Season duties.
Kicking off with 'Headlong', the song explodes into life halfway through and we get our first glimpse of just how potent a live act they are. It's followed by the beautiful 'Giving Me Wings' before 'Seven Day Mile' inspires the first big singalong of the evening.
Frontman Glen Hansard is as assured as always, dishing out banter, cracking jokes and occasionally acting as a motivational speaker. He talks about believing in reaching your goals and not giving up on them, and then comes across as something of a manic preacher during 'Pavement Tune', belting out the 'I want my life to make more sense to me' refrain. All this may seem a bit much for some, but it's lapped up by the fans.
The setlist draws from right across their career and its songs like 'God Bless Mom', 'The Stars Are Underground', 'Rent Day Blues' and that draw the biggest response. The amazing 'Lay Me Down' garners the biggest singalong, before the band decide to redo it in an English punk style, prompting the closest thing to a moshpit you're likely to see at one of their shows.
The band leave the stage after a powerful version of 'Revelate' having played 75 of the greatest minutes of music on a Belfast stage this year. Glen returns for a solo version of 'Disappointed', changing some of the lyrics to 'You're not drunk, you're just misdirected' to address some of the missed lyrics from the crowd. The band then rejoin him to round things up with old favourites 'Your Face', 'Fitzcarraldo', and 'Monument'.
The gig is an absolute delight from start to finish and it's a great thing to see these guys clearly buzzing from performing. They're always been much better live than on record and it was a real joy to see this in action once more. Any chance of another twenty years now lads?