LIVE: The Magic Numbers – Limelight, Belfast

TMN1 TMN6 TMN12 TMN15 TMN16The Limelight was packed all over with a range of gigs on Thursday with Annie Mac raving it up with some of the Game of Thrones cast in Limelight 2, formerly the Spring and Airbrake, while a much more personal and intimate gig was being held by The Magic Numbers with support from The Goat Roper Rodeo Band in Limelight 1.

The Goat Roper Rodeo Band is an acoustic trio from Wales that play, as they put it, “cosmic blues”. Influenced by some of the great country and blues artists, such as Bob Dylan and Waylon Jennings, their rockabilly fused set is relaxing with their harmonic and edgy tones. The trio sing and play well together, well versed and practiced, they should gather some recognition in the growing country and traditional music festivals that are steadily gaining momentum throughout the UK.

Promoting their debut album ‘Hail The Remedy’, The Goat Roper Rodeo Band played more for the enjoyment than to sell any merchandise, which is the best way as they as they performed better in that regard. Looking at previous accounts of their shows, if there’s one thing they can do it is entertain, so look out for them and give them a listen in your spare time. Their often slow and melancholic songs are switched around to pick up the crowd and sweep them away with a classy, country hoedown style performance.

When it came to The Magic Numbers arriving on stage, the audience were in full attendance and hardly any breathing space was available. Having only briefly followed The Magic Numbers when they released their 2005 debut album ‘The Magic Numbers’, with the single ‘Love Me Like You’, I was largely out of touch with their work and surprised by the huge following they garnered. Throughout the night the audience became a 5th member, interacting not on cue but on desire from minimal or no enticement from The Magic Numbers themselves. This attitude and vibrancy from the audience only helped to elevate the intensity of the set itself.

Playing from their new album, ‘Alias’, and backed by their previous albums along with Michele Stodart’s ‘Will You Wait’ from her solo album, ‘Wide-Eyed Crossing’, The Magic Numbers blended seamlessly from one song to the other. Showing their own influences, they had The Goat Roper Rodeo Band up on stage once again to do a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’, along with a surprise encore with Duke Special covering Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’. It was during this cover that singer Romeo Stodart proved to really enjoy the audience participation by pre-singing the lyrics so that everyone who was unfamiliar with the song could interact with the band further. It was on this final aspect that Romeo pleased the crowd one last time on stage when he announced ‘Mornings Eleven’ would be the last song of the night, a number greatly shouted out for at the beginning of the gig. Joe Smyth, GiggingNI.com

All in all The Magic Numbers put up on a brilliant show that went above and beyond my own expectations of them, they are a truly talented and remarkable group that I hope continue to make music and perform spectacular concerts. Personally speaking, I’m looking forward to seeing them again whenever it is they return. With support from The Goat Roper Rodeo Band and a special appearance from Duke Special, the only downside to the night was that with such a soft and sombre setting by the end of the night, it was kind of spoiled when Annie Mac could be heard blasting through the doors from the other side of the Limelight. So two things to be aware of if you want to see the Magic Numbers; when and where they’re playing, and whether there’s another band or DJ playing next to them at the same time. Regardless of the latter, if you can meet that first point, you’re already onto a winning night.