REVIEW: And So I Watch You From Afar – Mandela Hall, Belfast
With Belfast being the bands last stop of the tour, And So I Watch You From Afar return to Mandela Hall, concluding the tour with an explosive and emotional bang.
The night began with local three piece, SKYMAS. An electronic band, formed in late 2014, made up of singer Martin Corrigan, bassist Nick Todd and Andrew Dunbar, the man behind the genius synths and visuals. SKYMAS’ sound is a mixture of contagiously catchy electronic beats, set against the wonderfully obscure lyrics asserted by Corrigans unique vocals. As one of the most interesting and idiosyncratic bands on the local sene currently, they were an ideal start to a brilliant set. With the each track coming with more attitude than the one before, the tone of the evening was set.
After a short interlude between bands for a swift stage change and last minute guitar check, And So I Watch You From Afar took the stage. Without a word they opened with the first track from the new album ‘Heirs‘, ‘Run Home’. The powerful but intricate track immediately had the crowd going crazy and it was evident that these were the bands biggest and longest supporters, as the atmosphere was electric from the word go. The next track immediately began without a break between. A loud and raucous song named ‘Wasps‘, also from the bands new album, followed by tracks ‘Beautiful Universe Master Champion’ and the much adored ‘Gangs‘.
After these intrinsically loud, yet skilled track, guitarist Rory Friers took to the mic to personally thank the crowd. The guitarist noted the atmosphere, stating that where the band currently are could not have been achieved without many of the wonderful people in the room. Stating that the next song ‘7 Billion People’ “Goes out to all you dudes” and that this would be, “One of the many dedications to come.” After the touching dedication given by Friers this track naturally had the crowd in hysterics singing along to not only the vocals but also the guitar riffs. This was momentously electric and touching to witness.
The next three tracks were all taken from the bands past albums before the addition of guitarist Niall Kennedy. Tracks, ‘Search:Party:Animal’ and ‘Like A Mouse’ taken from the bands 2011 EP ‘Gangs‘ and 2013 album ‘All Hail Bright Future‘ were natural crowd pleasers with their with long-lasting complicated and repetitive riffs. Before taking another break to thank those along the tour with them the band played ‘S Is For Salamander’. A loud and more punk like track that made evident the bands more post rock/metal influences.
In the following interval after the track Friers once again took to the mic to say his thanks, this time to the technical team and those that worked behind the scenes. The sincerity shown by the band in their gratitude toward the team working with them highlighted justly the humble and genuineness of the talented band, made up of guitarists Rory Fiers, Niall Kennedy, bassist Johnny Adger and drummer Chris Wee.
The band then returned to play the last section of the the main set, joined by Friers brother Ewan Friers on the first track. This track is also taken from ‘Heirs‘, called ‘These Secret Kings‘, a track with definite influence from some of the bands indie rock past. The addition of Ewen (Axis Of) in this song was an awesome one, the powerful and catchy vocals had the crowd jumping and dancing.
The next track played by the band came from ‘Gangs‘, a track that in 2008 inspired a massive movement for the Belfast music scene, ‘A Little Solidarity’. This track with its infectious opening had the crowd transcend any madness that was experienced before, the whole room was electric with the sounds of this famous track.
The remaining tracks of the main set were delivered with a first class performance, each louder and more enchanting than the other. The songs, ‘A Beacon, A Compass’ and ‘Don’t Waste Time’ created a wonderful abyss of sound, losing concept of time and where one track ended and the other began. As the latter began to end one by one each band member exited the stage leaving only the resonating sound of the last few bars of the song echoing through, elongated to make up for the bands absence.
Upon ASIWYFA’s return to the stage for their final encore set, they once again took to giving out a final speech of gratitude. Stating the over whelming support they felt within the room on their only NI and final tour date. Starting with ‘Eunoia‘ and ‘Big Thinks Do Remarkable Things’ from their last album and lastly finishing with the explosive ‘Set Guitars To Kill’.