REVIEW: Spectrum Festival – Mandela Hall, Belfast

DSC_5212After a few technical issues, first act Echo Raptors opened the Spectrum Festival.

Echo Raptors sung a brand new song “Believe in Love” that will be realised on 21st of July. From the crowd reaction it looks like they have a hit on their hand, as a couple from the audience definitely felt the love and decided to slow dance in the middle of the crowd. After that soothing melody they ended their set with “Feel it on your Heart Again” – that expressed a quirky time change that the audience seemed to like. After their set I asked how they felt the set went? “It was great playing the Mandela Hall and a chance to take our music to new crowd.”

The pop group In An Instant were up next with a contrasting set, singing new songs such as “Fade Out” and “High or Low”. This strong heart thumping bass definitely got heads bobbing. Unfortunately due to technical difficulties they had to cut their set short however. Using synthesised melodic tones they created a mellow but quirky atmosphere that was certainly enjoyed by the Mandela Hall crowd.

The female singer of R51 may have had subtle green hair but subtle is not a word that could describe their music. Playing “Pillow Talk”,  debuted on BBC ATL and a last minute change to set, certainly woke the crowd up. They even got involved reciting lyrics during the last song.

Hot Cops set had a staccato rhythm. The drummer definitely was the heart of the band’s unique sound, giving the solemn melody a hearty beat. They shocked the ears of the audience with the diverse range of rhythms and tones, from extreme drums solo to jazzy tonal melodies and their abrupt song endings. Definitely would say they have a vague Arctic Monkeys sound.

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LORIS performing at Spectrum Festival 2015.

Loris are an electro pop group with an interesting use of percussion shakers, along with deep vibrating bass and rare vocal sounds, began their set with “Black Magic”. The crowd crept forward as the combination of their electric stage presence and rhythm naturally drew the crowd closer.

“Let’s Get Busy” saw the keyboardist and drummer switch places. This song really livened up the crowd thanks to the keyboardist energetic approach to playing the keyboard, with the rhythm flowing through his body to his fingers. “Higher” literally ended their set on a high and they went out with a bang quite literally, with the drummer who was clearly in the zone knocking over a microphone. But with a set like that, and the group’s use of deep lead piano, electrifying bass, complimented by the vocal manipulations, who can complain.

The edgy pop-rock-folk group New Ancestors opened their set with “Don’t Feel Sad” creating a great atmosphere in the hall among the fans. If you were a New Ancestors fan, you would know that the version of “If You Let Me” was a new slow electric adaptation of the original. Even though the original is very iconic sound for the band, this version truly fitted into the sound quality and theme of their set. And even though cheap red wine was not the drink of choice, New Ancestors “Red Wine” went down a treat. Despite the fact their set was cut short the crowd certainly seemed to express their love for these guys.

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New Ancestors performing at Spectrum Festival 2015.

Joshua Burnside was a welcome change and, alongside brother Connor, they caressed the ears of the crowd with their subtle melody and along with a heavy beat. Electric guitar was Joshua’s choice of weapon and we were also treated to his next single, which debuted in Mandela Hall that Friday to the audiences’ appreciation.

The headline act The Emerald Armada made a dramatic entrance to the stage, but their chilled stage presence showed us how effortless and passionate this band are about their unique modern folk sound. “Glasses Raised” seen the crowd salute the band raising their pints of chosen refreshments while the lead guitar solo got the crowd going.

While the other acts paved the way for The Emerald Armada, nothing could compare to the energy that was unleashed in the crowd when these guys played. Despite a few technical issues nothing could dampen the spirits of the crowd. “This House”, a brand new song heavily dominated by the bodhran, sparked some folk dancing as the chorus expressed an electro pop feel, an interesting choice that really complemented each other.

Ending the performance the band asked some of the previous acts to join them on stage for one final song. The electric energy was shared on stage and in the crowd, ending a great night of music successfully. Hannah Strain, GiggingNI.com