BBC Across The Line Review Our Krypton Son Supporting Vyvienne Long

'We are presented with an intimate, acoustic set. Chris McConaghy has a quiet and unassuming...his understated voice highlighting the melancholic nature of his songs.'

Tonight as part of the thirteenth Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival we are in for a treat with Vyvienne Long making a long awaited return to Belfast in a busy basement in McHughes ably supported by Our Krypton Son. We begin with Our Krypton Son who are missing a few members and as such we are presented with an intimate, acoustic set. Chris McConaghy has a quiet and unassuming quality. ‘Sunlight In The Ashes’ is deep and sorrowful with his understated voice highlighting the melancholy nature of the song.

‘Season In Hell’ brings the tempo right back up with a jaunty beat and witty lyrics. Chris switches to the piano for his final few tracks. Their latest offering ‘Plutonium’, is filled with quiet piano and heartfelt lyrics. He finishes on ‘Catalonian Love Song’, which has a meandering timeless quality to it. It would have been great to hear him with the fuller sound of a band, however, a minor gripe as his talent shines through regardless.

Vyvienne takes to the stage. It is a simple set up with herself, another cellist and a pianist. We open with ‘Late, Always’, a beautifully arranged track that rises and falls splendidly. ‘Bad Move’ follows, augmented with jumpy cello throughout that matches her staccato lyrics. ‘Hideaway’ brings the tempo right down with Jazzy-blues sections that have a noire-esque feel throughout and all the class befitting a waltz. Vyvienne’s songs are expertly produced, her ability with the cello is unparalleled and the way that she is able to create music that can simultaneously mend and break your heart is stunning.

‘Never Leave You’ is a dark, sexy, classy song that has a rap-like quality segued with a graceful chorus. The song possesses incredibly witty lyrics and it receives a great reception from the audience. The noise from the neighbouring St. Etienne show does provide a distraction but the band doesn't let the overabundance of bass phase them, opting to fight fire with fire and play one louder themselves. Tactless questions is a real toe tapper and continues the theme of razor sharp lyrics. ‘Treacherous’ is melodious and delicate, with all three band members harmonising perfectly. With ‘Random man’, ‘Happy Thoughts’ and ‘Inheritance’ ,we have a trio of darkly humorous tracks that provide plenty of laughs throughout. We hear the more traditional ‘They’re Not Waving’ before being treated to a brand new track.

‘Sailing Out To Sea’ is a lovely, sweet affair that draws the evening to a close. Though Vyvienne does return to do her uniquely marvelous renditions of ‘Yoshimi’ by The Flaming Lips and The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’. As I mentioned earlier the only real drawback to the evening was the noise from the festival marquee. It’s a minor complaint as the talent and ability on display in the basement far outweighed any possible negatives. If only all evenings were as beautiful as this one.

David Smith

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