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Heathers bloom while fibbs flop

SATURDAY evening in a church – it's not how I'd usually kickstart a music festival. But for a party that involves skipping around town for the night, hopping from one venue to the next in search of quality live music, it's a nice way to ease yourself in.

And so it is that Heathers' gorgeous, largely acoustic set at the Dublin Unitarian Church proves an excellent opening to this year's Meteor Camden Crawl.

Just how far local twins Ellie and Louise MacNamara have come in their live presentation of second album Kingdom is astonishing. Only last year at the Academy, we saw a nervous, somewhat awkward pair of otherwise talented songwriters.

Tonight, they're in a different league altogether; sharp, confident and beautifully in sync with each other's vocal, their marvellous way with melody shining through on Gather Up and Forget Me Knots. Cracking stuff indeed.

As is Dublin foursome Dogs' atmospheric gig at Whelan's. Blending sweet, guitar-based structures with beat-maker Ronan Marr's electro-fuelled hooks, this talented ensemble of players do well to entice punters with a sound that, though made for late-night audiences, is just as rewarding at 8pm on a Saturday night.

Over at the Grand Social, local five-piece, The Fibbs, showed everyone in attendance what happens when a bunch of Irish lads try to be the Red Hot Chili Peppers. God love them for trying (maybe they should have played in the church) but it's bloody awful. Similarly, Sydney-based electronic trio PVT's bass-heavy jams at the Button Factory are entirely forgettable, serving only as a noisy support to the mighty Echo & the Bunnymen.

Granted, Ian McCulloch (trademark shades included) and his boys are hardly on fire, their psychedelic/post-punk leanings sounding just a tad dated. But for the hour they're with us, there is at least an energy in the room that says nobody came for the 'crawl' – they came for the Bunnies. And, as festival headliners go, it's a fairly solid set.

McCulloch (sipping from what looks like a carton of milk) could also teach the new kids on the block a few lessons. "This is the greatest song ever written," he says, introducing The Killing Moon. Good man. Vocally, he's in fine form, his buddy Will Sergeant's wonderful fretwork proving a real highlight, too – not least on the magnificent set closer, Lips Like Sugar. Now that's how you finish a gig.

Star Rating: HHHII