Fighting With Wire

Another hometown gig for the Derry trio, three years on from debut album Man vs Monster

March 2011 marked three years since the release of Fighting With Wire's debut album Man Vs Monster. This time last year fans were getting restless about the follow up, Bones of the Twilight, which is finished but as yet unreleased. Frontman Cahir O'Doherty admits that 'interest is dwindling at this point'.

The band are the last ones to blame, though, as the finished record apparently gathers dust in the hands of their US label, Atlantic. Tonight, however, they've decided to keep themselves entertained with a live set upstairs in Sandinos.

But first it's local label and touring buddies More Than Conquerors who deliver an ever-strengthening support slot. A year on from their well-received debut EP, the Lisburn lads have honed their barbed, somewhat emotive brand of indie.

The tunes are there. New song 'When The Well Runs Dry' is brooding and expansive with a crashing riff section showing real maturity, but their stage presence is so rigid and shy that they never quite win over a crowd perhaps still reeling from post-Champions League Final heartache.

Even a little jaunt off-stage fails to inspire. With songs like theirs, it's a pity we have yet to see MTC truly open up live. However, this is a band with potential.

There are no such problems with tonight's headliners, whose back-and-forth slagging between songs would make bands of a lesser calibre soil themselves. 'Thank you for not going to Kings of Leon,' jokes O'Doherty. (The American chart rockers play Slane tonight.) 'It's better craic in Derry!'

What's great about Fighting With Wire at this stage is that they're past the point of easing new songs in. They know we've all heard 'Sugar' a hundred times before, so there's no point in safeguarding the unheard material any longer.

No less than five songs from Bones of the Twilight dominate the middle of the hour-long set, and it's the best period of the night. The highlights, judging by a sneak peak at the setlist, are 'Waiting on a Way to Believe', which reminds us of their nastier, post-hardcore tendencies, and 'I Had a Plan', with its Cobain-ish chord progression and memorable verse.

Elsewhere, the old favourites appear sporadically along with the title track from the I Am Ursus tour EP, as well as a blinding version of Nirvana's 'Breed' to close with. All signs that Fighting With Wire are doing their utmost to prevent staleness from setting in, at least at their gigs, where they have a definite sense of control.

As the for the album, who knows? Not even Fighting With Wire are sure, but with tour dates scheduled (with fellow grunge-pop enthusiasts Dinosaur Pile-Up in support), including a Belfast stop, they're refusing to be forgotten.

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