Pleasure Beach with support from Jealous of the Birds
Thursday 18th June 2015 – Bar Sub, Belfast
Pleasure Beach, Belfast’s newest dream pop offering, played their début gig at Bar Sub on Thursday 18th June. Supported by Jealous of the Birds, the gig prompted a relatively large turnout and was met with much audience appreciation.
The gig was kicked off by Jealous of the Birds, on-stage persona of indie-folk musician Naomi Hamilton, who performed a solo set from her E.P “Capricorn”. She began her set with a lovely dreamy song called ‘St Anne’s’, an evocative number referencing the Belfast landmark. The atmosphere in Bar Sub became immediately tranquil once Hamilton’s set began. An unusual and uncharacteristic sight of three people sitting cross legged on the floor in front of the stage set the tone for what was to become an incredibly relaxing set. The next song was called ‘Dandelion’, which Hamilton dedicated to a friend for her birthday. It featured the apt and lovely lyric; “Happy birthday, my little drop of dew” along with many other poetic lyrics.
For her third song, Hamilton played ‘Dissolve’, a folk song with an acoustic intro,silvery vocals and a very catchy chorus. This was followed by a mesmerising cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Buckets of Rain’, which she put her own sonorous stamp on. It was followed up with a few more of her self-penned tracks including the slow soulful EP title tune ‘Capricorn’. For the last song of the set, Hamilton played ‘Bipolar’, an impressive and heartfelt tune with wonderfully descriptive lyrics. The rendition showcased Hamilton’s range, as she soulfully managed to juxtapose lyrics like “Happy, Happy, Happiness” against mournful and melancholic vocals. The result was effective and appropriate, given the song’s name.
Jealous of the Birds reminded me of Laura Marling with her soulful vocals and skilful acoustic guitar playing, combined with Cat Power with her ethereal vocals and acoustic punk-sound. Hamilton herself had an enigmatic stage presence, which all but melted away the second she started performing. The combination made for a mellow,melodic set which went down really well with the audience and was thoroughly enjoyable.
An interlude followed Jealous of the Birds’ set, prompting mounting anticipation and a rapidly growing audience until Pleasure Beach took to the stage. Wordlessly, the quintet walked on-stage with quiet confidence before launching into ‘Debutante’, a high energy electro pop tune which with a a quick tempo, a very tight collaborative chorus and excellent harmonising. As the band emerged, the light display became suitably psychedelic, accenting the band’s dramatic stage flair and guitarist Alan’s electrifying shredding.
The animated entrance, which was met with much applause, prompted lead singer and guitarist Alan to announce “We are Pleasure Beach” as they launched into second tune ‘Magic Mountain’, another energetic number with a guitar solo.
The quintet, consisting of guitarist Alan, drummer Lisa, keyboarder Rachel, guitarist Kat and synth/bass/trumpet player Richard seemed very well practised and prepared for their first gig. With a sound reminiscent of the Magic Numbers, crossed with Arcade Fire and Metronomy, the five piece definitely evoked some pleasure with their audience.
Following ‘Magic Mountain’, Pleasure Beach played ‘Dreamer to the Dawn’, a song led by a strong drum intro from Lisa. The tune soon evolved into a pulsating electronic number with lots of synth and an effective vocal back and forth. Next up was ‘Haley’, a song which showcased an entirely different sound, with a slightly grungy intro, lots of rocky riffs and only Alan playing guitar, joined by vocal harmonies from Kat, Lisa, Rachel and Richard. It was followed again by the more grungy ‘I’m on Fire’, a nineties nod with an intro that had a U2/Oasis crossover sound with heavy riffs and echoey resonance which led straight into an upbeat tempo on drums, aided by Kat on guitar and Richard on synthesiser. With an instrumental beginning, ‘I’m on Fire’ led into quiet vocals which gradually rose in volume, complemented with lots of melodic harmonies.
For their penultimate song, Pleasure Beach played ‘Absentee’, which had a slow paced intro, that soon evolved with ethereal male vocals, nice riffs and a steady paced beat throughout. The song was complemented courtesy of multi musician Richard, who added a soulful sound to the tune with his trumpet solo at the outro.
Pleasure beach then announced their last song of the set, recently released single ‘Go’. With a funky intro, an energetic dreampop chorus, and a synthwave sound combined with their trademark tight harmonies, this song was a perfect choice to end the set on a high. Perfectly set off by a bright yellow light display, the band ended their debut on a confident note, and were very well received by the audience who cheered long after the band had exited the stage.
Debuting a fresh angle on dream pop, with elements of 60’s soul, 80s synth and some 90s nods Pleasure Beach offer an exciting new sound. Check out their debut single ‘Go’ online.