Runaway GO, with support from; Leaders of Men, Pretty Child Backfire and Go Swim.
Wednesday 4th December 2013 – Limelight 2, Belfast
On a cold cold cold Wednesday night Runaway GO came back to Belfast and graced the Limelight 2 stage, synonymous with opportunities for local bands. Billing their final show of 2013 as a Christmas show was however perhaps a dodgy assertion considering the lack of carols, mince pies and tinsel. Altogether I left feeling as festive as I had when I entered the venue, but that is a minor detail that is easily forgiven considering the rammed line up provided on the night.
As the early patters of footsteps came through the door, Go Swim were thrust on stage to provide a pleasant soundtrack. Fronted by Steven Smith and Julianne Shawe they showcased a confidence and assertiveness in their set that is pivotal in any band holding aspirations of progress. This being the first time I have seen them they left me wholly satisfied. Their set compiled of the usual blend of drum, guitar and bass; but their melodic composition has the potential to make them worthy of some follow up research. Perhaps the full line up of the night worked against them in that they were placed so early in the night, but I am confident they will find new fans within each audience they play to.
Next on stage were Belfast regulars Pretty Child Backfire with their increasingly distinctive catchy melodies. Consistently instantaneously likeable to the Pretty Child virgin, they performed with their usual on-stage confidence. Acting as support on this occasion, they performed their duties entirely in enticing the ever growing crowd to dawn their shifting swaying sides and leave that early gig awkwardness behind. The slot also gave Pretty Child the opportunity to further field-test some new material. Impressively, they dealt with some sound issues in such a mature and seasoned manner that many of the attentive crowd didn’t even notice. Learning from experiences like this will only strengthen their reputation as one of the Capitals ‘one to watch’ bands.
Final support for the evening was imported from Dublin in the form of Leaders of Men. A band who I hadn’t encountered before this gig; they provided a surprising contrast in style to Runaway GO, certainly a heavier act than the more clean cut headliners. Their performance was commanding in a venue and city outside of any comfort zones they may have. With the help of their easing frontman the crowd responded favourably. Personally the set wasn’t to my tastes, but they invigorated the crowd further and alas, the audience were warmed up and ready for the headline act.
The first time I saw RunawayGO, there was no Runaway GO. Under the name Phoenix Fire, they performed in support of More Than Conquerors in the Speakeasy. They didn’t have many songs but I remember being blown away by the presence on-stage of Dave and Fionna and how they interacted with the crowd. Some years later the songs are different, and the front two have only become more accomplished. Immediately they drew a line under the support acts, creating their own atmosphere to ensure there was no doubt whose night it was. Brimming with confidence after some high profile support slots under the likes of Bastille, King Charles and the Editors this performance signified a coming of age and the emergence of a new mature band. Runaway GO are not difficult to come by for any local gig goers, by all means they do their bit when it comes to the Belfast music scene; whether it’s Dave in Filthy’s bellowing his hearty voice with exuberance, or Chris providing us with a host of tunes in his capacity as a DJ. It’s easy for bands to loose charm and interest when they are too available, the live equivalent to radio overplaying. This gig signalled a revival in their live sets; trying out new songs and mixing it up by performing ‘I’ll Still Love You’ and ‘Wide Awake’ acoustically; three voices around one mic with gentle guitar plucks for accompaniment as an obedient and mesmerised crowd watched on. Sing-a-longs were had, feet shifted and hips swayed. Finishing on a high with ‘Jump Start’, the crowd demanded an encore. Obliging, the band returned to perform the popular ‘Delicate Man’ but not before announcing the sad departure of drummer Javed, who we all wish well going forward.NOT a Christmas show, but a show worth going to, Runaway GO’s final show of the year was an impressive one. They’re off to make an album now. Good luck to them, they’ve certainly built their foundations.