The Bonnevilles with support from The Murder Balledeers & No Oil Paintings
Saturday 8th March 2014 – Atlantic Bar, Portrush
A discarded crisp packet rolls like tumble weed through the deserted streets of Portrush, doors are locked tight and curtains pulled closed against the night. The sea laps against soggy sand like an oil spill, just your average pre-tourist season night in the Port.
Elsewhere in the bellies of bars, cars and the flatulent smelling Kelly’s nightclub, people scuttle around like beetles ready to feast on what little time is left before the next shift starts. Walk through the doors of the Retro (pay at the table of course) and warm yourselves up among the throng of smiling revelers. On stage a group of young vagabonds have just begun to play.
No Oil Paintings stand in a row, cooing country and cheering the crowd with good old fashioned blue grass. The guys are no strangers to the music scene, twin brothers James and Sean Doone have been playing together for the last five years, crafting their sound and cementing their skill. It certainly shows! Guitarist and Slide player Chris Kelly fronted hard rock band High Output for three years while Conor Pelan has been writing songs since he was thirteen years old. The musical ability of the group is not just impressive, it is also inspiring. James Doone (bass and vocals) lulls back and forth, his playing is loose and chill whilst remaining tight in place of a drummer. Sean Doone, clad in a checkered shirt complete with a cowboy hat, adds flavour with skilful banjo playing. Kelly and Pelan, who are both accomplished guitarists, fill out the sound. All the guys have warm voices and good pitch. No Oil paintings ran through a relaxing set, easing the crowd in for the more chaotic bands on the bill.
The Murder Balledeers begin with an explosion of noise. Heavy drums shake the PA system; a booming bass sucks the air out of your chest. Ethereal guitars wail like a banshee, slicing through this wall of noise with melodious grace. The band is tight and together, interacting with the crowd with ease and joy. A tanked up bespectacled dancer flitters across to the stage and dumps his tenant’s sodden elbow on its edge. They tell him that he may have had enough. The Balledeers were exciting to watch, the sound was mixed well and the levels were clear and not too muddled. This was key for the band’s closing song, a cover of Television’s ten minute epic, ‘Marquee Moon’. The band recreated the textures of Lloyd and Verlaine perfectly, from the staccato intro to Richard Lloyd’s lush electric fret dancing. The Bonnevilles have a tough act to follow.
Stepping onstage, white shirt black tie, the Blues Brothers minus the added accessories, are Andrew McGibbon Jnr and Christopher McMullan. The amp sparks into life and the lads drop the crowd right into the chaos. Paint thinner mixed with snake’s venom is what one could describe the tone of McGibbon’s guitar. Like an acidic whip, it wraps around your neck and forces you to take note. McMullan drives the songs along like a drunken shine runner escaping the police in a 66 Dodge. The lads ran through a breathless set of songs, showcasing old crowd favourites and playing new tunes. The sound was good, although the guitar lacked definition at times, but for the most part everything was clear. The band talked to the crowd and even managed a moment to address the bespectacled soggy dancer. The Bonnevilles are currently undergoing a UK and Ireland Tour from March to April 2014 after the success of their album “Folk Art & The Death of Electric Jesus’.
Leaning and lighting cigarettes on the cracked window sills of the hotel, the red faced and beaming crowd clutter the once empty streets. Someone downs a bottle of Buckfast and three stumbling friends head towards the direction of the blue pool. A Saturday night well spent.