Not about the looks as Bell X1 rock Cork

Frontman Paul Noonan from Bell X1 performing on stage as part of the 2018 Live at The Marquee, Cork. Pic Darragh Kane

The big news from the latest tour is Paul Noonan’s new look. He’s got a floppy fringe! And a goatee. But us Bell X1 fans are all about the music, not shallow superficiality. It’s about the lyrics, not the looks. It’s about how their songs connect with their fans, resonating with our very souls. So what if the lead singer looks a little like David Brent?

The band can play the big venues, they’ve rocked Cork’s Marquee and filled arenas, but it’s intimate venues that serve their particular blend of sweet, indie pop rock best.

For acoustics and atmosphere, it doesn’t come much better than St Luke’s on Cork’s Summerhill, an old church reincarnated as a live music locale.

A place of worship seems only fitting as we, the faithful, file in, past holy water fountains and serene stained glass, to celebrate the gospel according to Bell X1, accompanied by a celestial string quartet. It does feel like going to Mass, nodding at the familiar faces (us Bell X1ers tend to turn up religiously at their Cork gigs) dressed in their Sunday best, ready to give praise.

Granted, thanks to the BYOB policy, the wine propped on the pews in plastic cups isn’t blessed, and some wily attendees have brought cushions to make the wooden digs more comfy. That, perhaps, gives you an idea of the age demographic of the congregation.

Noonan alludes to it as the crowd gives a few whoops during ‘The End is Nigh’. “Settle down guys, it’s a Sunday night,” he says. “Child-free!” comes the retort. “Back to reality in the morning,” he acknowledges. “Midterm, what’s that about, we’re rock stars!”

We all laugh knowingly. We’ve grown up with them, this witty, wise, trio of troubadours. They play all our favourites, ‘Light Catches Your Face’, ‘Eve the Apple of My Eye’, T’ake Your Sweet Time’ and ‘Flame’ being standouts. Praise be to Bell X 1.

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