The Emerald Armada, The 1930s, The Cael Collective
For anyone struggling with the dreaded January blues, Deadonmusic have just the answer on a crisp Friday evening in Belfast. The venue is McHugh's basement, complete with its cosy and friendly atmosphere. Here the punters continually file into what turns out to be a sell-out gig.
The early birds are well rewarded with The Cael Collective. The band rarely gets to play together due to other commitments - a real shame as everyone is clearly captured by the charming set of upbeat, country folk tunes, and their very tight sounding performance. Thankfully, there is no ï¿½first band on syndromeï¿½ tonight and the chatter is kept to a minimum. Already there is plenty of foot stomping and even a few daring enough to pull some moves to the fast paced ï¿½Merry-Go-Roundï¿½. Let's hope we get to see a lot more of this band in the future.
Up next is young duo, The 1930s. Armed only with an acoustic guitar and a drum kit, the boys play a set jam-packed with radio friendly folk delights. Their lyrics are clever, catchy and at times poignant. ï¿½Break My Heartï¿½ is a notable crowd favourite and gets a large portion of them singing and clapping along. By the end of the set McHugh's is packed and it is obvious that the audience are up for a good night.
The Emerald Armada are still just under one year old and this is their first big gig of the New Year. After the high of their sell out E.P launch at The Empire in December it is clear they have picked up a following as the crowd swarm around the front eager for the band to start. The five piece band has recruited a harpist for tonight's performance which began the set with a beautiful solo intro to ï¿½I Don't Mindï¿½. The delicate and pure notes captivate the audience before The Armada crank it up for their high octane indie folk gems.
It is clear that everyone is up for a party and The Emerald Armada deliver, everyone responding with energy and vigour. This musical fleet show a lot of depth with a great combination of hookline choruses and impressive harmonies. They finish the night with a rousing rendition of ï¿½Wonderful Mistakeï¿½, which rounds off an evening of quality music with great gusto.
Tonight has reinforced the high standard of the folk music scene in Belfast and with all three bands having new E.Ps on the horizon there is plenty more to look forward to in 2011.