Cashier No. 9 warm the cockles with moreish melodies pity headliner Marcus Foster is more of a wet blanket. Getintothis’ Orla Foster won’t be reaching for the tissues.
Tonight’s show at Mojo brings together a variety of bands, each with an earthy, folk-driven touch.
To kick off the night, there’s Nick Ellis, who opens his set with the singular request that everybody in the venue turn round to someone they don’t know and make friends with them.
Has the man been sat in his room all week watching Once? Very possibly.
This sets off a long heartfelt composition devoted to someone he has been walking in the park with. From the chorus, that much is clear. A lot of Ellis‘ songs have this problem, where presumably he hits on the one key line, thinks ‘Eureka!‘ and proceeds to repeat it ad infinitum, until the words lose all meaning.
For all the singer-songwriter foibles, however, Ellis‘ charisma and easy confidence take off the possibly wet edge of the music. The man has a quip to make between every song, keeping the set lively. You get so nervous for acoustic types when they won’t lift their eyes from the ground, so his self-assurance makes a welcome change.
Then it’s James Canty, a LIPA grad who demonstrates a similar willingness to engage with his audience and have a bit of fun.
As hinted by the Davy Crockett cap, double bass and mandolin, his band ply their trade in American-influenced folk music.
Their opener is a long, pensive, country-flavoured ballad, with echoes of the likes of Ryan Adams and Midlake.
Nevertheless, the gentle ambience the band create is blasted out of the water by their next offering; a barnstompin’, fingerclickin’ bluesgrass number. Everyone in the venue wakes up and some men in front of me talk about how great this would have been back at the hallowed Bandwagon night at Zanzibar, which sounds about right.
Between ditties, Canty endears himself to the crowd with his childlike approach towards performing.
Just when the set feels more or less finished, he indicates to the sound guy that he’s got two songs left to play, painstakingly tuning a banjo for the occasion. The request is granted, but when he wheedles for another, his bandmates vacate the stage and the sound gets cut off. The crowd gives him a huge round of applause all the same for trying his luck.
Tonight, however, the name on most people’s lips is that of Cashier No. 9, the latest project of Carryduff darling Danny Todd.
Taking their name from the dronish nature of the dead-end day job, the band have seen their fair share of excitement recently, and have been gathering momentum for a couple of years now.
Judging by the high percentage of Irish accents in the room, they seem to have attracted a large following from their native Belfast too.
They start off promisingly, with songs such as Lost At Sea and Goldstar fusing breezy synth-drenched pop with hints of skiffle.
However, the performance dips a little after the first few songs, and it all starts to sound a little more ordinary (Teenage Fanclub, comes the verdict from the men stood in front).
Still, Cashier No. 9 are, for the most part, a decent live draw and easily the evening’s highlight. So long as they stick with the catchy melodies that is.
Finally, it’s the main name on the bill – Marcus Foster, who is your typical dyed-in-the-wool singer-songwriter. All of his songs seem to be about crying or making people cry.
There’s really no doubting the man’s sincerity – not least when he brushes away tears with his sleeve. This is Damien Rice, this is James Morrison, this is X Factor covering Jeff Buckley. A sensitive man.
And no doubt an accomplished man too. It’s a convincing performance from a giant pair of lungs, even if he does keep alternating between microphones and occasionally sounds like he’s announcing the next flight to Luxembourg over the tannoy.
He has a nice gentle manner to him at least, and becomes more confident over the course of the set, descending into a bunch of guitar solos worthy of Gimme Hendrix.
Mostly, though, it’s all a bit full-throttle, and if you didn’t break up with your sugar dumpling earlier that day then you might not be in the right frame of mind for it.
There’s definitely an audience for this, trouble is they’re probably all stuck at home knee-deep in a box of Kleenex.
Picture from Thank Folk For That.