January 2016 saw the release of Walking on Cars’ album Everything This Way. Since then the Irish band have proven they are here to stay and will take nothing less than success. They brought their unique take on Indie Pop/Rock to Custom House Square, Belfast and gave us all a show that will not be forgotten in a hurry.
The night kicked off with local band The Emerald Armada. Over the past few years they have become one of the most well known bands in the north and are a staple to our music industry. It is surprising and humbling to see a bunch of lads that care so much about their music open such a big show in their home town.
The set kicked off with “Cain & Able“. They started off very low key before going full blown Armada style into it with gems such as “Bodies Roll ” and “Brothers”. From the get go the crowd was engrossed in their Irish Rock style. It is rare to have so many people turn up to the support band for a gig such as this so it was heartwarming to see so many enlightened faces enjoying tracks such as “Like A Dog” and “Now Go”.
It’s so refreshing to see the guys keep their Irish accents and folk style without going into cliche Mumford and Sons territory. The synchronised drumming mixed with heavy bass lines and intense harmonising meant their mix between old and new material was a pleasure to watch. The beers and banter on stage only added to the relaxed vibe the guys were creating which was emulated by the onlookers. They were so appreciative of playing there and even mentioned “it isn’t often a local band gets to do this sort of thing” which made the set all the more special. Their humility mixed with the undeniable talent meant a successful support slot for our main headliners. To quote Augustus (lead singer) “Good, we’re not shite like” – an understatement for their performance.
So it was finally time, Walking on Cars were minutes away from appearing in front of us and anticipation amongst everyone was growing. They casually sauntered on stage as though they were getting ready to play a gig in the local bar. The confidence they had was evident from the start as they went into their first song “Ship Goes Down“. Patrick Sheehy’s voice was impeccable as he was able to get everyone dancing and singing while he casually walked across the stage with his hat and hoodie. Sorcha Durham’s beautiful harmonising ensured the song was an instant crowd pleaser.
Their set consisted of the majority of their album including “Tick Tock”, “Always Be With You” and “At Gunpoint“. Throughout the set Patrick was constantly swapping and changing between vocals, guitar and piano. There was an incredibly intimate moment with the crowd in which the entire band left the stage and he sang “Coming My Way” with the piano. There was such a diversity between melodic ballads and full blown sing a long belters throughout the night.
Everyone on stage was brilliant at getting the crowd going to, especially Paul Flannery on bass. It seemed every few minutes he was getting everyone to clap their hands along to the songs (which was in no way a bad thing) as the energy levels just rose as the night went on.
Similar to The Emerald Armada, Walking on Cars seemed incredibly grateful to be playing the stage. At one point it was even mentioned the past year being “the best f****** year of my life”. It is always so much more satisfying for the onlookers when you know the bands playing on stage genuinely want to be there and are having fun. Throughout the set there was banter between all the band mates as they showed us they were having craic in Belfast.
It seemed the guys were only playing for a few moments before they left the stage claiming that was the end of the gig. Obviously the Belfast norm of shouting “one more song” began before they all suavely entered the stage once more. Their encore included the likes of “Catch Me If You Can” and a cover of Martin Garrix’s “Scared to be Lonely“.
I started to become anxious thinking they weren’t going to play my personal favourite track and then it happened… The song that so many of us were waiting for, “Speeding Cars“. Before they played Patrick stated that when they come to Belfast it’s always a bigger and crazier crowd. This song whole heartedly cemented that ideal as everyone went crazy and went for it, including the band. They put there absolute all into the entire set but their final song was something else.
From The Emerald Armada’s “Cain & Able” to Walking on Cars’ “Speeding Cars” the night was an unequivocal success. The level of talent that played on that stage left a lot for the rest of the festival to live up to. I personally cannot wait for their new material and hope Walking on Cars’ enjoyed Belfast as much as we enjoyed their show.