On-song Bell boys chime and charm flock at the RDS
Review Bell X1 RDS, Dublin FOR the past few years, the smart money has been on Bell X1 to turn domestic success into international acclaim.
Their second album, 'Music in Mouth', was a big seller here but failed to make an impression beyond these waters.
Now, its number-one follow up, 'Flock', is about to be released in Britain, and advance notices suggest that the band may experience a happier fate this time of asking.
Back home, though, the Kildare band's stock has reached the enviable level where they can sell out the 5,000-capacity RDS.
Vocalist Paul Noonan, multi-instrumentalists Brian Crosby and Dave Geraghty and bassist Dominic Phillips - with touring drummer Tim O'Donovan in tow - are not used to playing such a large arena, but on Tuesday night it felt like this was their natural home. Bell X1 were immense.
There were shades of Talking Heads - particularly in Noonan's nervy vocals and fidgity stage persona - Radiohead and early U2 in this near two-hour performance.
The band pushed themselves into exciting new areas while also delivering the sort of emotional singalongs that have become their forte.
Among the high points were a playful re-interpretation of 'Tongue' (an old song from the Juniper days co-written with former bandmate Damien Rice), the garage stomp of 'White Water Song', a rousing rendition of new crowd favourite 'Rocky Took a Lover' and the crowd-assisted 'Flame' - which was being recorded on the night for future release.
Best of all was a haunting performance of 'I'll See Your Heart' and 'I'll Raise You Mine' which beautifully segued Depeche Mode's 'Enjoy the Silence' into the middle eight.
And 'Lamposts', with its Pink Floyd-like atmospherics, proved that Bell X1 have reached a level of performance far beyond most of their Irish contemporaries.