Le Galaxie w/ Go Wolf @ Aether & Echo, Belfast


The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival is a Belfast institution, but it’s probably easy for many people to forget about the events that happen away from the festival marquee in Custom House Square, hence a slightly underwhelming turnout at Aether & Echo tonight for the Belfast leg of Le Galaxie’s Le Club tour (or maybe everyone is too glued to tonight’s election coverage). Although the room has filled up quite nicely by the time the headliners take to the stage, tonight’s openers, Belfast’s own Go Wolf play to a sparser audience. Their set is impressively tight and polished, though the music itself is admittedly somewhat uninspiring. Tracks like Two Door Cinema Club-esque single ‘Talk To You’ are full of pure pop hooks that will doubtless appeal to many but the whole set feels somewhat homogenous. It’s very easy to imagine this music soundtracking programme trailers on E4, and whether you interpret that statement as a glowing endorsement or a damning indictment will give you a good indicator of whether or not this band are for you.

Le Galaxie are in a different league altogether, however, and it’s in evidence from the moment they take to the stage amidst the opening notes of ‘Humanise’, a stage bathed in smoke and disco lights including their own impressive ‘Le Club’ neon sign – the whole thing resembles a nightclub scene from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (which is no bad thing). Their retro-schtick could easily go one of two ways, but there’s just enough knowing irony and modernity mixed in to prevent it from feeling cheesy, and Michael Pope is an engaging frontman, his antics ranging from ironic dance moves, pointing a drumstick dramatically at the audience in between banging a floor tom, and miming along to a saxophone by blowing into his own thumb.


New album Le Club’s title track is a highlight, as is the audience singalong prompted by old favourite ‘Midnight Midnight’, and some apparent technical problems with Pope’s vocoder go largely unnoticed throughout the show. After a three year wait for a new record, the new songs like ‘Streetheart’ and closer ‘Put The Chain On’ are already greeted enthusiastically by an eagerly dancing crowd despite the album only being out for a week.  As good as they are on record, Le Galaxie’s music is really designed to be heard in a live environment, even those with guest vocalists like ‘Love System’ and ‘The Nightcaller’, the vocals being sampled in their absence  without any detriment to the experience.

Their set is one of those that feels like an event, even if the venue isn’t quite packed to capacity. For those of us that have checked the election news between bands and been confronted with the exit poll results, Le Galaxie provide a much needed pick-me-up – some appropriately 80s style fun to distract from the depressingly 80s style government we’re about to endure. Cathal McBride