Bea // Moonboot // Conor Marcus // Live Review // The Ulster Sports Club // Belfast

Ulster Sports Club played host to three young, up-and-coming acts on a summery Sunday night in Belfast. BEA headlined along with her band, wowing the crowd with an impassioned, soulful performance, supported by funky trio MOONBOOT and singer-songwriter CONOR MARCUS. There was a healthy mix of covers and original songs from all three, and the room-filling crowd seemed to enjoy every single second of it.

Conor Marcus kicked things off with a handful of love songs that were as gentle and wholesome as their performance was impressive. About halfway through his set, he announced he was going to do a cover song. His songwriting and performing were so good that he could have been playing nothing but cover songs up to that point and no one would have noticed any otherwise. Mixing things up, he swapped out his acoustic guitar for a seat at the keyboard every few songs, explaining the occasional song inspiration and cracking the odd joke as he did so. A contestant on The Voice Kids UK a few years ago, his natural stage presence and lack of any hint of nerves come as no surprise. You can’t rub shoulders with the likes of Will.I.Am and Jessie J and be afraid of a chilled-out Belfast crowd. There was a nice moment when someone held their phone light up and before long, encouraged by the singer, many in the room were following suit. Incredibly talented, especially for being so young – there was mention that he was only sixteen, expect to see more of this young man performing around the city and beyond.

The crowd may have been suitably calm and chill during Conor’s set, but from the moment Moonboot took the stage (just to fine-tune their pre-show soundcheck, no less), people rushed to the front of the stage and the room began to fill out until there was a healthy crowd buzzing and ready to go. Understandable, considering how electric the relatively new three-piece set was. The band consisted of a drummer, keyboardist, and guitarist-singer. Forgoing a bass player is a bold move for any band, but doubly so if you play a style of music even remotely close to funk, but the trio pulled it off in spades. Oozing groove, they played an energetic set with the crowd being guided by the effortless movements of frontman Charlie Magill. It seemed like a dance fever had broken out from the very first note. A mash-up rendition of several well-known pop songs blended together in the band’s signature style, bookended by Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’, got a particularly excited reaction followed by a declaration from Charlie that, “they’re all good songs when you think about it.” Another band to keep an eye out for, they’d go down particularly well for those that like to put their dancin’ shoes on at the weekend.

Short for Beatrice, pronounced ‘be-ah’, the night’s headliner took to the stage, draped in golden light, accompanied by her boyfriend and songwriting partner Jack McGirr who sat calmly on a wooden stool, acoustic in hand. The pair played a few songs together, with his strong work and her Amy-Winehouse-meets-Duffy voice clearly making an impact amidst the screams emanating from the crowd who were packed tighter than a can of sardines. Even the guy who seemed to have fallen asleep standing up against the amp stack had a smile on his face.

It wasn’t long though until Bea introduced the drummer and bassist waiting in the wings while Jack traded out his electric and together they picked things up a notch. From here until the end of the night, the crowd just seemed to get more and more excited and feverish. Especially when the band played a fantastic cover of Duffy’s ‘Mercy’, and especially-especially when a saxophonist was invited up on stage. The sound and lighting were both on point, complimenting all three acts but especially for the headliners. From the moment he sat down, the night’s last drummer looked like he was in the music video for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.

Bea herself has some voice for one voice, with a range of pitches and influences and techniques. Definitely worth keeping an ear out for in the future. You know someone is an impressive singer when, after the show, a debate is overheard in the bogs: not over whether or not she’s talented, but whether she sounds more like Amy Winehouse or more like Duffy, with the unspoken agreement being that there’s without a doubt a bit of both in the mix.

It was a super fun night and every person that took to the stage performed incredibly well, even if they all had to perform under the shadow of the saxophonist who, in any situation, is automatically and by default the coolest person in the room. I don’t make the rules. That’s just how it Bea.

Written and photographed by Mark Russell




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