Bell X1 | photo by Joe Del Tufo |

The Bell X1 / Vita and the Woolf tour swung through Philly last night, with Vita getting a strong showing from a hometown crowd in the packed Boot & Saddle. Vita and the Woolf played a strong and especially 80s-infused set, with vocalist Jennifer Pague showing her goth side. They played a strong selection from their excellent forthcoming album Tunnels, due in April. “Brett,” “Qiet,” “Super Ranger” and Mary “have” become live staples, and got the loudest response from the crowd. I could overhear Bell X1 fans comment positively after the Vita set. Big things for this band in 2017, and I look forward to seeing them at Firefly Festival in June.

Vita and the Woolf | photo by Joe Del Tufo |

Bell X1 were just stunning. They make it here rarely, hailing from Ireland, and they typically play much larger venues in Europe. As a rather subdued band, I wondered if they would be overshadowed by Vita and the Woolf’s emotional energy and stage presence. They are much different live than in the studio. The crowd pressed forward in the tiny venue and Bell X1 kicking into “Fake Memory,” from their most recent release Arms. They pulled a lot from Arms, and it was clear that the album had been studied carefully by their fans, who turned much of the show into an (occasionally drunken) singalong.

“We will cover all of the smash hits tonight,” vocalist Paul Noonan joked. And joke as he will, songs like “Rocky Took A Lover,” “Eve The Apple of My Eye,” “Flame” and “I Go Where I” Go were the highlights. But it was their take on Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” that was the most interesting. Noonan, who is two parts Thom Yorke, one part David Byrne on stage, took a spirited approach to the hit, and the band surrounded his words in layers of shimmer that elevated the song even further.

Bell X1 | photo by Joe Del Tufo |

I noticed a number of musicians in the house, and Lisa Hannigan was called out by Noonan late in the show. It was great to see the enthusiasm for a band that tours here infrequently, and by all rights should be much larger than they are here.

Fake Memory
The Ribs of a Broken Umbrella
Out of Love
My First Born For A Song
The Upswing
Eve, The Apple of My Eye
I Go Where I Go
Rocky Took A Love
Sons & Daughters
Let’s Dance (David Bowie)
The Great Defector
Careful What You Wish For
Bring Me The Fire King
The End is Nigh