Bell X1 can do it all in our book, flitting effortlessly from large outdoor shows to intimate acoustic gigs, their musical quality an ever present feature.
Ireland’s top trio, Dave Geraghty, Paul Noonan and Dom Philips, return to the Milk Market for a Big Top gig - the scene of a triumphant December 2011 show - this Friday, following on the heels of sixth album Chop Chop taking a coveted number one spot in the Irish album charts, a peak reached despite the band touring Ireland to flog albums directly to punters earlier this summer.
That was a reward to loyal fans, with the band doing meet and greets and playing acoustic tracks from their career defining record, which eschews frivolous electronics for good old sincere song writing. Bell X1 refrained from “tarting up” the songs, according to multi-instrumentalist Dave Geraghty.
“We enjoyed playing the songs acoustically so much and that informed the making of the record,” he says. “To feel brave and try to write a great song and being comfortable playing that song in a very simple manner, not being distracted by trying to tart it up in contemporary sounds - just old school, less is more.
“Just feeling comfortable in them and reclining in the bosom of good songs. Not that I proclaiming that we have written great songs - I am hoping that we have and we tried our very best to do so - and just went with the minimalist approach when it came to recording them.”
Chop Chop was recorded in a mere 13 days in Tarquin Studios, Bridgeport, Connecticut by Peter Katis - who has worked with the National and Interpol - and Thomas Bartlett. The stripped back songs reveal a depth of emotion that Bell X1, famous for biting, satirical lyrics, may not have revealed of themselves heretofore.
“You can hear more honesty and feeling and emotion in a song when it is not crowded with noodly sonics, bells and whistles,” agrees Geraghty. “That is essentially why we listen to music, for the emotional connection.
“It wasn’t a contrived thing, it was very natural, it felt like an obvious next step to take,” he adds.
A great affinity exists between Limerick audiences and the band, as gigs in rooms as diverse as Dolan’s Warehouse, LIT’s Millennium Theatre, Trinity Rooms and St John’s Church and latterly, the Big Top in the Milk Market, have shown. The band are excited about returning to Limerick, showing off new songs.
“We have done quite a few gigs already so we have integrated the new songs. Even though they sound quite different, they really work with the older material.
“We are really looking forward to taking the new material down in Limerick for the first time with the new album - hopefully people will respond as positively as they have elsewhere.”
Doors for the gig in the Big Top at the Milk Market open at 7pm this Friday and tickets priced at €30 are on sale from Dolan’s.