Review: Jealous of the Birds – Empire Hall, Belfast
The Biggest Weekend Fringe has allowed for some great events over the past few weeks, and Jealous of the Birds’ headline set at the Empire was no different. The line-up for the night featured an eclectic mix of some of the most talented and promising acts that the local scene has to offer, from the indie pop of Susie Blue, to soul artist Owen Lamont to of course Jealous of the Birds, fronted by Naomi Hamilton, who’s music has been described as a fusion of post punk and indie folk.
The night opened with a set from Derry’s Susie Blue. The first track instantly highlighted the energy that was to come, and new singles ‘She’s a Keeper’ and ‘Didn’t Mean to Care’ showcased Susie’s ability to craft songs that are undoubtedly comparable to some of the biggest indie pop acts around. It was ‘People Like Us’ however, that was my personal highlight of the set, with an infectiously catchy chorus tailor-made for the crowd to join in with. The set from Susie Blue served as a perfect, high energy warm-up and also proved why she is seen as one of Derry’s most promising up and coming acts.
It was then the turn of Belfast singer-songwriter Owen Lamont to take to the stage. Owen has been on the scene for a while now, having formerly been a member of The Delawares. However, it was last year through the success of his debut single “Hold On” that he established himself as a solo artist. Owen’s voice sounded sensational on the night, and I lost track of how many times it simply floored me. While he often performs solo, he was joined by his full band for this performance, each member contributed to creating what was a truly gripping performance. By the end of the set there was no doubting his sheer vocal talent as well as his ability to craft compelling soul and blues songs.
Following on from two fantastic support acts, the headliners took to the stage. It’s already been a great year for Jealous of the Birds, signing to Atlantic Records in February, appearing on huge festival line-ups such as The Great Escape and Latitude as well as gearing up for the release of the new EP ‘The Moths of What I Want Will Eat Me in My Sleep’. Having followed the band for a while now and only catching the band in support slots, I was massively excited to see them in their own headline show. It was fantastic to see that the venue was packed, and it was clear that there was a great excitement to see one of the county’s hottest prospects.
The band opened with a string of tracks from their debut album ‘Parma Violets’. Tracks such as ‘Trouble in Bohemia’, ‘Russian Doll’ and title track ‘Parma Violets’ showcased Naomi’s vast song writing ability and the eclectic nature of the bands discography. While Jealous of the Birds began as (and largely remains) the solo-project of Naomi Hamilton, the full band makes the experience all the more mesmerising and enjoyable. Naomi’s earliest single, ‘Goji Berry Sunset’ remains a highlight of the set, a beautifully intimate song that you’ll find yourself whistling days after hearing, as well as fully engrossing each member of the audience on every occasion it’s played.
We were also treated to some new material from the band, with single ‘Mrs Dalloway’ as well as the final song of the night, the massively well-received new single ‘Plastic Skeletons’. While the two new tracks could not be more different, they perfectly highlight Naomi’s eclectic song writing ability. The track from the upcoming EP served as the perfect way to end a fantastic set, and there’s no doubt that if the band continue to craft songs of this quality, they will only go from strength to strength.
The night also marked a special occasion as it was the birthday of Naomi, with the crowd supplied with party poppers as well as participating in the compulsory ‘Happy Birthday’ singalong. It added a truly personal touch to the fantastic night of local music, and the crowd were truly grateful that she had given up her birthday to provide such an incredible show.
Click on the photo below to see the full album by Chris McGuigan.