Two Door Cinema Club
There's no sign of new songs, but under the tongue-in-cheek guise of a tribute act the Bangor boys make a long-awaited reconnection with their roots
So, welcome to this week's worst kept secret. The announcement that the tribute band 'Tudor Cinema Club' would be playing some of Ireland's most well-trodden gig venues this week fooled a few people at first (ahem…) before pennies eventually dropped that there was more to it than that.
Reviews of Sunday night's show in Galway confirmed the inevitable, and following a second gig in Dublin, it was on to Belfast to complete the mini-tour with the band's first hometown performance since Belsonic in August 2012. In fact, this week has marked the Bangor trio's first live shows anywhere since they played London's O2 Arena in December 2013 – nearly two-and-a-half years ago.
By the way, kudos to them in a) the self-deprecating way that they chose to come back, knowing that reaction at home would be along the lines of 'there’s a Two Door tribute band?! really?!' and b) keeping ticket prices so low. A world-class band for £6 is nothing to be sniffed at.
You wouldn’t know they had been away for so long. Alex Trimble may have grown his hair to somewhere past his ears and further cultivated that bizarre American twang (G-Mac will breathe a sigh of relief when he hears it) but otherwise it's business as usual, as Trimble, Sam Halliday and Kevin Baird (and two sidemen, including their phenomenal cyborg of a drummer) lock in together, as tight and powerful as ever. It's a joy to hear those guitar fireworks and effervescent choruses as loud as this again. The time away has not dulled their shine.
As you might expect, there's a valedictory air to proceedings. Although the band recently tweeted that their third album is finished, precisely no new songs are aired. The closest we get is 2013's one-off single 'Changing Of The Seasons', which sounds much improved in its live incarnation – a touch slower, stripped of Madeon's tacky production and adorned with a lovely croon and Alex Turner-esque swagger from Trimble. Gone is the frail boy of a few years ago – these days Trimble is a confident, cocksure showman, and all the better for it.
Otherwise the hits come thick and fast – 'Sleep Alone', a punchy 'Undercover Martyn', 'This Is The Life' with Alex appearing to whoop with joy at being back on stage, 'I Can Talk', a chiming 'Something Good Can Work'. Halfway through, 'Come Back Home' is triumphant, Sam grinning with delight as his fingers dance around the fretboard, peeling off those needling riffs.
At the song's close, Alex declares that 'it feels f**king great to be back in Belfast, finally' before pausing for a bashful hello to the band's mums in the crowd.
It's a perfectly chosen moment made all the more resonant when followed up with 'Sun', a song about heartache and homesickness, with that lovely line about hearing 'distant drumlins' – a nod to their County Down upbringing. As if to emphasise the point (if not labour it), Alex follows it up by toasting the Belfast crowd with a pint of Guinness.
As the 75-minute set gallops towards its climax, the Two Door formula, which barely changed between the first two albums, does begin to wear a bit thin – you'd hope that album number three will put that right and see them move their sound on a bit further.
But tonight, and this week of not-so-secret shows, isn't about musical progression. It's about a band getting back to what they are best at and making a genuine reconnection with their fans. They've done that admirably.