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And So I Watch You From Afar
Live @ Mandella Hall, Belfast
Francis Jones, 05 May 2011
We’re in the bottom level of Queen’s Student’s Union as instrumental rockers And So I Watch You From Afar launch – unleash would be a more apt description – their second full-length album, Gangs. There is an appropriately celebratory air to proceedings, with friends and family in attendance (it’s also bassist Johnny Adger’s birthday and he’ll be treated to a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ by the crowd).
The show is effectively split in two, a run-through of the new record in its entirety followed by some back-catalogue belters. The quartet take to the stage, their logo looming six-foot high on the wall behind them. Adger holds a position in the centre, either side of him are the spinning dervish guitarists, Rory Friers and Tony Wright. Behind this trio is Chris ‘Big Unit’ Wee, the hulking percussionist attacking his kit as if he has a personal vendetta against it. ‘Search:Party:Animal’ is the most unrelentingly intense of the fresh-minted material, bass and guitars combining to skewer us like the Devil’s own pitchfork. ‘7 Billion People All Alive At Once’ allows a brief respite from the fury, delicate guitar pirouetting across a minefield of thudding drums as members of support acts Lantern For A Gale and Not Squares holler and yelp. It’s soon back into the fray as ‘Think: Breathe: Destroy’ enfolds the room in a maelstrom of Fugazi-style guitars and Stooges raw power.
With Gangs warmly welcomed into the fold, there’s time for some old favourites, not least an arse-kicking ‘Set Guitars To Kill’ and joyous ‘A Little Bit Of Solidarity Goes A Long Way’. The day, which started with the hullaballoo of the Royal Wedding, ends with And So I Watch You From Afar staking their claim to be crowned the most exciting rock band in Ireland. They might just have succeeded.