Bell x1 played the first of their homecoming gigs at the Olympia Theatre last night and were so much better than every other time I have seen them. Not that they were bad on other occasions, just that they were so good last night. This is a band who have really come into their own and easily sell out Dublin’s middle venues on consecutive nights.
I had seen them in Vicar Street earlier this year and they were great, but last night’s gig was a masterstroke in performing. Paul Noonan is a marvellous band leader and the rest of the band are equals, especially guitar/harmonica/banjo player David Geraghty. Marc’s trousers were a travesty though.
Bell x1 played a mix of everything last night. They weren’t supporting the new album Blue Lights on the Runway any longer, and thus could play what they (and the fans liked). Opener ‘Ribs of a Broken Umbrella’ was a fantastic way to start a show, and led into a tremendous run of songs including ‘Reacharound’ and ‘How Your Heart Is Wired’. ‘Bad Skin Day’ slowed things down a little, and ‘Next to You’ featured a nice little tribute to Michael Jackson.
One of the many fan requests they played was an old school ‘Eve, the Apple of the Eye’ which went down a treat with the large crowd. The biggest cheer followed for ‘The Great Defector’ which was as fantastic as ever. ‘Flame’ and ‘Rocky Took a Lover’ were other fan favourites and ‘Rocky’ ended the main set perfectly.
The encore was almost as long as the main set and began with ‘Slowset’ and ‘Just Like Mister Benn’. Both songs had been requested by fans on the band’s messageboard (the Bellyboard) and went down a treat. Although the drunk gobsheens behind me were talking during ‘Mr Benn’ and almost got into a fight. Tools. The songs were glorious though.
‘Alphabet Soup’ was fantastic, as is every song from Music in Mouth – what an album. The Talking Heads tease was lovely too, and a great nod to their major influence. “More cowbell”. Paul told us about new Bell X-onesies, which I really have to see. He also wondered whether people would buy one for adults. From the consensus last night, it seems they could be on to a winner.
‘A Better Band’ brought that requested cowbell, and the night ended with a stunning extended ‘I’ll See Your Heart and I’ll Raise You Mine’. It was a high all the way through, and was probably the gig of the year. Saved the best til last? Definitely (although I have Macca to come in December. But can a Beatle top this? I doubt it.)