The Black Box hosted the Ethiopaid fundraiser featuring three local artists in the form of Paul McVeigh, The Dandy Horses with the event being headlined by Belfast band The Vals.
The support acts of Paul McVeigh and The Dandy Horses were both well received and obviously brought their own following on the night but for me the chance to see The Vals for the first time live was the highlight of my evening.
Paul Doherty, frontman of The Vals, is a self-confessed lover of sixties music and this was evident in both his song writing, choice of sixties inspired large polka dotted pink guitar and Austin Powers inspired dress sense of some band members. In truth all these factors adds to the bands’ undeniable appeal.
Hearing The Vals live gives a fresh take on the albums released by the band to date, Sticks and Stones and Wildflower Way, and there is a raw energy in the live performance that is ultimately hard to put across on recorded material.
A strong set of some 15 songs opened with “Quiet Part of Time” from Wildflower Way and continued to showcase songs from the band’s two studio albums. There are a large number of influences evident throughout the set and I certainly picked out strains of Neil Young, The La’s, The Beatles, Oasis and for me a hint of Manfred Mann in “Bellamy Only Dreams”. Other highlights for me on the night including “Emily O” and “Look to the One”.
When your band’s keyboard player turns up sporting an electric blue sequined jacket and silver glitter keyboard decoration, it felt like we were only one step away from “My Lovely Horse” from the Father Ted comedy series but suffice to say, and thankfully, this never happened and that band continued to showcase their sixties inspired repertoire and certainly it is safe to say if you came to the fundraising evening never having heard The Vals you left with a new band to check out. They were that good live.
Speaking to lead singer Paul Doherty after the gig he confessed that they had a new guitarist who had only been playing with the band for less than two week. The good thing for The Vals is that you would never have noticed.
The Vals are already well known in Europe, especially in Germany, and had recently been hand picked to support the legendary Paul Weller on the European leg of his latest tour. I feel this gives a true measure of the standing of the band musically and it is surely only a matter of time before the Northern Ireland public figures this out.
So The Vals are back at The Black Box on Sunday 5th July and I can only suggest you spend your hard earned cash going to see this exciting Belfast band. Michael Ferguson, GiggingNI.com