Samuel Beckett quote from a pop-rock combo anyone? What else would one expect from an opening song from the lyrical gangsters that are Bell X1?
Kicking off a distinctively non-jazzy set, just one of a number at the Cork Opera House, Paul Noonan, Dave Geraghty and Dominic Phillips introduce a sold-out venue to their album, Arms.
It’s testament to the trio that the whole place rocks to ‘Fail Again, Fail Better’, as if it were an old favorite. Not that classic numbers are in short supply. They oblige the fans, belting out crowd pleasers like ‘The Great Defector’, ‘Eve’, the ‘Apple of my Eye’ and ‘Flame’. When Mr Noonan, gloriously casual in skinny jeans, navy t-shirt and trainers, thrusts both hands towards the crowd, and implores, with the perfect amount of stubble and soul: “You be my tongue, I’ll be your groove” in that intimate and earnest way of his, the entire auditorium lean in as one.
And that is this band’s superpower. The skill to connect with an audience, to draw us in from the very first note, and keep us there, snug and secure in the palm of their metaphorical musical hand. Sure, these lads love a good metaphor. Highlights include a raucous rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, introduced in a fittingly fabulous way by Noonan paraphrasing Willie Wonka, remembering all the greats who passed away this year: “They were the music makers, they were the dreamers of dreams.” A band that delights in the cleverness of their own bon mot but is Irish enough at it’s core to be bashful about it’s own brilliance, a band that delivers with passion and precision, will always sell out shows on this shore. Whether they can crack the rest of the world with this album remains to be seen. It won’t be for lack of trying.