Bell X1 at the Mandela Hall, Belfast
Padhraic McArdle catches one of Ireland's most promising acts
Bell X1 are finally distancing themselves from the Damien Rice comparisons, and the Mandela Hall was the perfect venue for them to blow away their Belfast fans. As the crowd sang and swayed, the band went through their set, note-perfect with confidence and grace.
The quartet's third album, Flock, has been their most successful to date and they have proved that they can sell records. However, that doesn't guarantee a good live show. But when the band took to the stage the music sucked the crowd in, to make a memorable night.
The quirky 'My First Born For A Song' was a surprising opener but was merely a warm-up for what was to come. The tempo was raised with 'Bigger Than Me' before moving into older hits such as 'White Water Noise'.
The highlight of the night had to be the now infamous 'Eve, The Apple Of My Eye'. As the couples got closer, the singletons held aloft their mobile phones to capture the moment, a ripple of phone lights adding to the already palpable atmosphere.
As the band once more picked up the pace with 'Reacharound', the crowd responded with the noise and energy building. With the venue's small size the crowd were close to the band and it suited both as they fed off one another's energy.
The obligatory break before an encore made the fans hunger for more and they were satisfied when the band came back on to finish with 'Flame'. With the applause at their back they left and so too the crowd.
The Kildare foursome of Brian Crosby, Dave Geraghty, Paul Noonan and Dominic Phillips originally stared in the band Juniper alongside the aforementioned Rice. After releasing two singles and an EP, Rice left the band for a solo career. After his departure, Noonan came to the fore. The new band, named after the first aircraft to break the sound barrier, has gone on to greater success and justifiably so.
It was the band's second album Music in Mouth that brought them fame as first album Neither Am I had limited success. 'Eve' was the album's stand-out track and was used in the television show The OC before going on to double-platinum sales.
In 2005 the third album, Flock, went straight in at number one and a nationwide tour quickly sold out.
Emerging from the shadow of Damien Rice can't be easy for BellX1 but their live show is full of poise. Confidence in their own music and the ability to deliver it is in abundance. This is one of Ireland's finest bands, with a live act to match.