Friday night, I mostly detached myself from the election, Em mostly detached herself from studying and we went to see Bell X1 in the CQAF Marquee. So I collected Em from the train, we wandered down to the Custom House and had a scuffle over tickets that amused the bouncers, dithered over burgers and took ourselves into the marquee to sit against the stage and eat, study, speculate about the wind resistance of the roof and watch the Assembly count descend into farce on Twitter. And then we were right up the front and there was Planet Parade and Bell X1 and oh but that was fun.
Custom House Square
The Marquee is a lovely space. As compensation for it never being quite warm enough during the festival to have outdoor shows, CQAF decorate it with swags of fabric and fairy lights and chandeliers. Of course, strong winds do tend to make the lights swing and people look nervously at the roof, but it’s never blown down yet.
Planet Parade were cute and chatty and having fun and are carrying on the grand tradition of having your drummer folded up behind the drumkit like origami. They also kept sounding just enough like something else that I’ve been trawling youtube trying to track down what the hell their singer sounds like. It will annoy me for days, and they went and took all their merch home before we made it to the back so I can’t even have another listen. Tch.
And then Bell X1 sauntered on in a cloud of dry ice and sauntered into ‘Hey Anna Lena
‘ with coats still on. I don’t have a lot of sensible things to say about this band. They’ve been saving my sanity with ‘Firstborn For a Song
‘ every time I need to write things and providing me with achy delicate sad songs and jangling awkward love songs and literary flavoured cynicism for way too long for sensible commentary. I am attached
Hey Anna Lena
And then Paul ditched his coat and Dave settled his hat and everything got considerably noisier. In the good way. They’re the kind of band who are there to have a good night and really want everyone else to have a good night, so ‘Everyone all right down the back?’ was asked every few songs. Everyone was great. Except the guy beside me. I don’t know why he was there, he spent more time glaring at people than anything else.
“My Firstborn for a Song”
They’ve got Paul Noonan a baby drumkit, which has cut down on the flailing about in danger of falling off the stage considerably. It also means moments of pure awesome like him and Rory Doyle jamming along in perfect sync. They’re good
. Well, they’re all good, but that was special. Of course, he still ends up with nothing to do with his hands, leading to a love-hate relationship with the mic stand, putting the tambourine on his head and dancing the robot, but that’s why we’re here.
The new album is fitting nicely into the set, although I’m the only person I know who likes ‘Anna Lena’ (they’re all So Very Wrong), everyone seems to be getting on with everything else just fine. ‘Velcro
‘ is a much better ballad of a tour with the full band and it was pretty good acoustic. ‘4 Minute Mile
‘ was when Paul accidentally dismantled the mic stand, and Marc Aubele gave up even pretending to take things seriously. Which is fitting for a song about how you’re not going to do all those things, and you’re pretty much fine with that, even if you are still annoyed about Jim’ll Fix It. They don’t hold many grudges, this band, but the ones against O2 and Jimmy Saville are being clung to with style.
“And that’s OK, most of the time”
Dave Geraghty did ‘Built to Last
‘. I always forget how good his voice is and then he does a solo and I remember. I always forget how they swap guitars around too, the acoustic with the patterning, the one that looks like a cello, and the Battlestar Galactica shaped electric. I don’t even play guitar and I have guitar envy.
Built to Last
They were playing the fast songs, despite the girls behind us begging for ‘Beautiful Madness’ – “Ah, no, we’re sticking to the party songs tonight”. Which meant shouting “Sing it with us!” and ‘Toungue
‘ and ‘Eve
‘ and ‘Great Defector
‘ and ‘Rocky Took a Lov
er’ and coming back for the encore with just Paul and Dave and banjo to start ‘West of Her Spine
‘, Dominic Philips wandering back in perfect time to come in with the bass, and the other two trailing after him just-in-time as well. They’ve so practised that.
Next to You
Paul Noonan’s not a chatty frontman, although he’s getting better and the rest of the band have a good line smart-arse comments. The best of the night was introducing “Alphabet Soup
” for the sign-off: “This is a song about a girl and a boy, and it all went wrong and it was horrible. And its all ok now, but for a while there, the only person talking to the boy was his alphabet soup.” Number one way to lift the roof, that. And then they finished on ‘Flame
And I got four hours sleep and spent Saturday in a puddle of quiet glee, because I went to see Bell X1 and they played everything I wanted them to play.