General Fiasco with support from Pretty Child Backfire, Runaway Go and More Than Conquerors
Saturday 28th July 2012 – Mandela Hall, Belfast
There is a sense of expectation in the Mandela Hall tonight as one of NI’s finest launch their second album with the help of some of the rising stars of the local scene.
Pretty Child Backfire have the privilege of kicking off proceedings tonight to what is a reasonably big crowd. The indie rock band has been getting some good reviews in the local press and their feel good music helps to win over the young crowd. ‘And All the Things Said In the Twilight’ is a startling catchy number that would probably not seem out of place on a Vampire Weekend record. “The Swell” is a perfect example of the melody led but with a hint of dance track that the guys can blast out. Final track of the evening ‘I Wish I Knew You Better’ is a bit more stripped back but Mark gets the crowd clapping along over the chorus of “Tell Me Something’s Right.” The guys set is extremely tight and it won’t be long before they are headlining their own shows of this size.
More Than Conquerors are the current darlings of the NI music scene with their amazing live shows and their latest track being play listed on Radio One. The band is starting to gain traction away from the local scene and their last couple of live shows have demonstrated how their sound & sets have matured. The cornerstone of the set is ‘Go On, Go On, Get Out’ which is led by Jamie’s persistent drumming and gets the whole audience clapping along before the band really rock out. But one of the highlights of the night is ‘Bear Knuckle Fight’, a nice heavy rock track that really suits Kris’s vocals. And it even has some delightful cowbell, who doesn’t like cowbell? Radio One listeners beware this is a cracking track that you will be singing subconsciously.
Penultimate band Runaway Go seems to have been at every festival in Northern Ireland this summer and they bring their touring juggernaut to support General Fiasco. Their set is becoming pretty standard by now as the always infectiously keen David Jackson works his magic on the young crowd. Before ‘Delicate Man’ we are given a crash course in the lyrics and once the song kicks there are very few in the Mandela Hall who are not belting out the words to the epic pop track. Leaving us with ‘Alligator,’ David helps out Javed on drumming duties to boost their sound. What has become a recurring feature of Runaway Go shows is their surprise of how well their music is received, but it shouldn’t be. I would be more worried and surprised if they were not receiving rapturous responses to their music. I cannot stress how much I am looking forward to their debut album!
General Fiasco take to the stage with the reasonably full ground floor of the Mandela Hall cheering their names. They launch into ‘Something Sometime’, their second ever single which is something of a treat for long-time fans as it is such a rarity in their live appearances. ‘Waves’ a personal favourite of mine gets the youngsters dancing and singing along to the pop – rock anthem. ‘We Are the Foolish,’ ‘I Wanna Eat Her,’ are played early on to get the crowd warmed up before they introduce some newer material. ‘Talk to My Friends’ is the first big moment of the set and sees the crowd sing-a-long to “This should be easy” before going mental to the very dance-able track.
‘Bad Habits’ sounds absolutely fantastic live, with the epic opening riffs ripping through the air and clearly demonstrate what General Fiasco do best, catchy rock anthems. The addition of Stuart Bell has really added an extra layer to not only their records but their live show, his addition is even noticeable on older tracks like ‘Buildings’ and more noticeably on newer material like ‘Don’t You Ever’ Another rarity ‘A Wise Decision’ also makes a surprise appearance particularly since it doesn’t feature on either of their albums or EPs. The band move into a more chilled out area during the middle of the set, throwing in ‘Daylight’, ‘Hollows’ and of course ‘Sinking Ships’ which sees the rest of the band leave the stage, with Owen going it alone. It is a moment where all the young girls swoon and the guys wish that they had that ability.
‘I’m Not Made of Eyes’ marks the return of the rockier material as they rattle towards the end of an impressive set. ‘Dancing with Girls’ shows that the band is really enjoying themselves as they really rock out with Leaky in particular doing some serious damage to the drum kit. It wouldn’t be a proper gig if ‘Rebel Get By’ didn’t get a run out and as ever gets a wild reception from the adoring crowd. ‘Bottom’ is a rich ballad that again could have been placed in the set earlier with the more acoustic songs. ‘The Age You Start Losing Friends’ really generated attention when it was unveiled as the first track from their second album sessions. The angry guitars and Owen half shouting/half screaming really takes things to a new level and the crowd love it. ‘Sleep’ has a funky vibe and pushes Owen’s vocals to the limit but perhaps would have been better utilised earlier in the set. Determined to leave us on a high General Fiasco leave the Mandela Hall crowd urge us to “buy rather than steal” their new album before launching into the anthem that is ‘Ever So Shy.’ While the crowd have been relatively subdued tonight, the opening notes of this song create a chaotic mosh pit of dancing teens.
While at times tonight the crowd was a bit subdued, perhaps due to a lack of knowledge of the newer songs it is clear the General Fiasco have the ability and the songs to broaden their horizons and take the next step. My only criticism is that the guys could do with interacting with their fans a bit more. Their set had a good mix of tracks from their new album, 1st album and even a few surprises thrown in for good measure. Tonight has been a fantastic show-case yet again of the quality bands that Northern Ireland has on these shores and in particular that General Fiasco now have the tunes and the backing to take their music further afield and make a success of it.