LIVE: Ron Pope – Mandela Hall, Belfast

ronAfter embarking across the States and the UK over the last couple of weeks, Ron Pope, the musical mastermind behind the highly acclaimed hit “A Drop in the Ocean,” is back in the UK & Ireland to promote his latest record “Calling Off The Dogs.”

Kicking things off tonight we have Alexz Johnson, one girl with one guitar, who plays to a timid crowd and whose songs tenderly fuse the genres of folk-rock and mellow indie. Johnson powers through tracks such as “Stepping Stones” and “This is Heartache” and her voice erupts through Mandela Hall with good force – her husky tone reaps through you. Although appearing a bit nervous, she continues to belt her way through her set. Michael Grubbs from Wakey! Wakey! joins Johnson to accompany her for the next few songs.

Frontman of Wakey! Wakey! Michael Grubbs is next to take to the stage and, although performing without the rest of the band, proves himself to go from strength to strength through each track, and also boasts a certain confidence which soon wins over the audience. The majority of the crowd lose their voices within the first three seconds of him taking to the stage; everyone is more alert and the crowd is building up. The passion demonstrated by this man is echoed through his keys and voice and his captivating set of indie-alternative rock tracks such as “Almost Everything” and “Square Peg in a Round Hole” soon see the crowd chanting along to the words that give the song its name. He is then joined by Alexz Johnson, and the audience, who help in singing the final songs of the evening.

All the support acts have now finished and the stage is currently being set up for our headliner and it isn’t long before Ron Pope graces the stage to a surging drum roll and heavy bass line. The first song of the night is the first single from the new album, “Lick My Wounds” which vigorously drives the crowd into motion. It is clear from the current reaction of the crowd that Ron Pope will be putting on a colossal showcase tonight. He radiates an incredible amount of energy as he charges through the new and old songs alike. Two songs from the new album, “Push Me Away,” and “Back To Bed” draw comparisons from the likes of Coldplay with surging guitars and smooth vocals. Another oldie “I’m Alright If You’re Alright” beckons the crowd to sing along with more volume and force than the others before. After a delicate blend of old and new songs, Ron Pope leaves the stage; leaving the crowd to wait in anticipation for an encore. Within minutes, he comes back to the stage to play the heartfelt “You’re The Reason I Come Home” which sends the audience into a relaxed trance before finding a new lease of life to belt along to the popular “Fireflies” and, of course the one we have all been waiting for, “A Drop in the Ocean.” Tiarna Kennedy.