Tonights’ gig billing at the Limelight 2 is a somewhat Celtic affair with two bands hailing from Bonny Scotland and one from our own fair shores.
First up are Loris, a local female fronted electro-pop quartet. Having noticed their name on posters around town but never actually heard or seen them live when they launch into songs like ‘Yeah‘ and ‘Crazy‘ I am really impressed. The band have inevitably been compared to Chvrches and Haim as they have a similar vibe and are female fronted but Loris‘ lead singer Frances has a much more powerful and soulful voice than Lauren Mayberry. It’s unfortunate that as the opening act most of the crowd had yet to arrive and missed out on hearing them. A definite one to watch as they have already garnered Radio 1 airplay and backing from BBC Introducing. Catch Loris at the Emerald Armada EP launch in Limelight on Friday 4th December.
Without fanfare and with muted lighting Ross Leighton, frontman with ‘Fatherson‘ takes the stage. Tonight the Belfast crowd are being treated to an acoustic show with stripped back versions of songs from the 2015 album ‘I Am an Island’. Launching into the exquisite ‘Dust’ Leighton’s beautifully executed falsetto is full of emotion and although some noisy voices are chattering at the bar the majority of the crowd is silent and enjoying the moment.
Appearing rather shy he apologises for it just being him playing and not the full band but promises to be back in February something which elicits a few cheers from the floor. Leighton encourages the crowd to move in towards the stage and we obey willingly to which he laughs ‘that could have been embarassing‘.
‘James‘ is up next and without the full band it is even more poignant and heart rending, with the crowd joining in with the refrain of ‘so go home, sober up, take the weight off your feet and just chill’. ‘Always‘ follows, their new single, which has a slightly different feel with its insistent bassline and crashing drums, but in this instance it takes on a more slow paced melancholic feel simply played on an acoustic guitar.
Settling in onstage the frontman tells us that he was nervous to turn up and play alone but thanks to us its been lovely. Hes so genuine and approachable and Fatherson’s songs are so full of emotion that it’s no wonder their star is on the rise. During ‘Half the Things‘ Leighton encourages different sections of the audience to sing along with a beautiful harmonic effect and smiling faces all round. New song ‘Joanna‘ follows before the set is ended on the crowd favourite ‘I Like Not Knowing‘ with every word echoed back to the frontman. I’d strongly advise people to go see this band when they next play in February as I’ve a feeling its the last time you will see them in a tiny venue.
Before Prides mount the stage they stand at the side and have a huddle, singer Stewart Brock with microphone in hand and jokingly stretching out their legs on the stage steps to Paramore’s ‘Misery Business‘. Bursting onto the Limelight 2 stage then with ferocious energy and to a room full of cheers they kick off with ‘Its Not Gonna Change‘, a perfect opener which gets us all singing along from the start. For being a relatively new band the Glasgow based 3 piece have attracted a large crowd such is the draw of their synthpop 80s stylings. Part of this has to be due to the fact that frontman Stewart Brock is a very active physical lead of the band who is singing and dancing as if his life depends on it and revelling in the audience interaction. This is contrasted by guitarist and co-keyboardist Callum Wiseman who is a rather shy presence on stage, swigging from a bottle of red in between songs.
The band decide to slow it down with what they call a ‘sexy song’ and play the ballad ‘Let It Go‘ which wouldn’t sound out of place in an 80’s brat pack movie centered on heartbreak and lost love. Next they surprise us with an Ellie Goulding cover in the shape of ‘On My Mind’, which they confidently make their own. This is followed up with summer single ‘Little Danger’, getting us all dancing along with the insistent drum beat from Lewis Gardiner.
The next song is dedicated to the Prides fans who have been there from the start in 2013 and as the three piece launch in the anthemic ‘Out of The Blue‘ the room erupts in cheers. Theres something quintessentially Scottish in Prides perfect pop sound and this song showcases it perfectly with its singalong bridge and chorus and harmonies, it makes me think of ‘Big Country‘ which is no bad thing (I’m a total 80s fangirl)!
Wiseman takes up an acoustic guitar for the emotional ballad ‘Same Mistakes‘ which slows the pace down but is heartfelt and heartbreaking all at once. Brocks voice is unusual and compelling as he conveys such feeling and pain. Things didn’t slow down for long though as they kicked it up a gear with ‘I Should Know You Better‘ with its positive vibe and soaring harmonic vocals from Brock and Wiseman prompting another crowd singalong.
Ross Leighton from ‘Fatherson’ takes to the stage to give a helping hand on the next track, album closer ‘The Kite String and the Anchor Rope’ and its a glorious affair with 3 piece harmonies and its beautiful piano line, it shows a stripped back side of Prides, and the calibre of the songwriting. With the opening chords of ‘Messiah‘ the room erupts in cheers again and we are all moving to the beat and singing along, and the words of ‘So say you’ll be my Messiah‘ seem to be quite fitting for the loving following this band have, with Brock venturing to the end of the stage playing to the crowd, buoyed by their energy.
All too soon its over, and as its the last night of their UK tour the boys elect to go get drunk but not before greeting fans and having personal chats at the merch stand. With perfect pop tunes and likability Prides should be a lot bigger than they already are but it looks like they are enjoying every moment of their journey upwards. Sarah McCrossan, GiggingNI.com