Aqualung - with support from Kashmir & Bell X1 - Live Review

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Aqualung with support from Kashmir & Bell X1 - Live Review

with support from Kashmir & Bell X1
Manchester Academy Three; 07/03/04

Kashmir are the ultimate Sunday night opening band, so laid back that you could be forgiven for expecting to see hammocks hanging from the ceiling as oppose to the common-all-garden disco ball that adorns many a gig venue. In fact, there was neither here tonight, the latter being band on account of Aqualung’s Matt Hales smashing his face into one on their last appearance in the venue. The crowd barely awoke from its slumber during the first act apart from the notable rise in attention levels evoked by the set highlight ‘Surfing The Warm Industry’ that features rat race decrying lyrics;

Aqualung with support from Kashmir & Bell X1 - Live Review

“I wanna run from the apathy from the questioning tounges and eyes that just
won't come off”.

The likable Irish quartet Bell X1 fronted by Paul Noonan with their own brand of laid back, low key, bitter sweet rock have been impressing many recently, none more so than tonight’s main act who allowed them to use their grand piano. Slow mind massaging piano fuelled tunes like ‘Eve, The Apple Of My Eye’ and the tender and poignant ‘I’ll See Your Heart & I’ll Raise You Mine’ got hearts thumping faster than Mike Tyson in a road rage incident. ‘Snakes & Snakes’ was the tune in which Bell X1 demonstrated that they have an extra dimension and was heavier and rawer than the album version, being a hybrid of The Charlatans and Guided By Voices.

The grand piano was adorned with candles and inline with the church like ambience it created; Matt & Ben Hales that are the mainstay of Aqualung both shuffled onto stage with the presence and dignity of a vicar. When the band kicked off with a couple of bouncier new tracks that at most gigs would have seen more bouncing than at the world sumo wrestling championships, but not tonight the audience remained still and captivated. They were probably concentrating all their efforts on fighting back the tears, as Matt’s heavenly voice and soothing piano melody combined for one of the most tear-jerking songs ever made; ‘Falling Out Of Love’ from the self titled album. This emotive offering resonated around the venue and brought about worried looks on the faces of event organisers for holding the gig on the 3rd floor of a building, good job the window were locked!. There was no respite, as it was followed by an equally sorrowful offering from the new album; ’Still Life’ entitled ‘Just Another Hole’ about the fallibility of the heart and could easily be the new anthem for the broken hearted.

The ever popular ‘Strange & Beautiful’ towards the middle restored some happiness to the venue. Matt was in a jovial mood all night bantering with the band and as he introduced his brother to the crowd late on he indulged his brother is a neat, impromptu and sparkling piano and guitar jam similar to the noise Morcambe and Wise used to make. An encore inclusive of the old favourite ‘If I fall’ made for a spine tingling end to a refreshing evening.

David Adair

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