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Bell X1 - Live at King John's Castle

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Twenty years on the road is a hell of of a long time for any Irish band to stay going strong, therefore it's only right that Bell X1 celebrate that landmark achievement in style and where better to do that than in King John Castle as part of Limerick’s Riverfest festivities. 

What marks out tonight’s headliners is not only their longevity but the fact that they have continually evolved, producing high quality & varied albums throughout their career. And tracks from all of their seven studio albums feature on tonight’s setlist along with a couple of surprise renditions.

As you would expect the night is full of fan favourites with the band getting the crowd on-board from the off with ‘Velcro’ & one of their early classics ‘Man on Mir’ which is delivered with a fresh impetus that belies its age, while ‘Eve, the Apple of My Eye’ is as heart-brokenly romantic as ever.

Even though the set features plenty from all their long players, however as you might expect the band lean heaviest on ‘Music in Mouth’ and their big breakthrough album ‘Flock’ with no less than five tracks from the latter being played on the night. Whilst its crowd pleasers ‘Flame’ & the wonderfully uplifting ‘Rocky took a Lover’ that get everyone singing and dancing, it’s the unreal unerring performance of ‘My First Born for a Song’ that stands out with the band in sublime rhythmic ecstasy.

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Even though we love their own material the stunning acoustic rendition of ‘She’s a Mystery To Me’ was surely one of the highlights of the night, the sumptuous harmonies of Paul, Dave & Dominic hushed even the most persistent of chatterers in the audience, with Dominic getting the loudest cheers for his vocal contributions - The Big O would have approved.

Another classy cover, this time Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ energetically paves the way for another gig highlight with ‘The End is Nigh’ blasting out with an intensity not really suggested by the studio version, bringing the song to sublime heights with slight nods to LCD Soundsytem & New Order along the way, in what is a powerful performance.

The band may have been delivering fireworks of their own all night but they have to give pause for a few minutes for the breathtaking Riverfest illuminations before sneaking back on stage almost ninja-like for the final throws of their celebrations.

‘The Great Defector’ provides one last opportunity for the masses to revel in full-on party mode before the delicate ‘I’ll See Your Heart and I’ll Raise You Mine’ closes the night’s proceedings, leaving both band and audience fully satisfied with how the past twenty years have gone.

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Thanks to Shane Serrano for the classy pics.