After scurrying across the city from a Cabaret festival show, I arrive at Jive to find support band Ports already on-stage. The four piece band from Ireland are instantly likeable and by the end of their brief acoustic set have a room full of new fans. Their Celtic tinged folk, has elements in common with Coldplay, Travis, Mumford & Sons, but great sound of their own. Great songs, ace harmonies. They are warm, friendly, thrilled to be playing for new ears who are so extremely appreciating their music without any prior knowledge of their songs.
Usually more of a traditional band (drums, keys, etc), tonight they are a stripped down version to suit The Ex’s all acoustic sound. They take this to it’s ultimate when for their final song they switch off the PA, and sing the whole thing on the lip of the stage. It is a magical end to stunning set. It is rare to see a support band that so completely wins over an entire audience, and rarer to be confident to say that the odds are you will be hearing a whole lot more from this glorious outfit from Derry. They sold a tonne of CD afterwards!
After a brief break All My Ex’s Live In Texas take the stage. Elana Stone (accordion/vocals), Georgia Mooney (mandolin/vocals), Hannah Crofts (ukulele/vocals) and Katie Wright (guitar/vocals) came together in 2014 at a O Brother Where Art Thou concert. I first noticed the name as they take their name from a song by US country artist George Strait, I happen to really like. Then I saw a video for their first single Tell Me, which had some very guest appearances from Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon) and comedian Lawrence.
I realised that in 2010 Elana Stone had captivated me as the female protagonist in the Tripod Versus The Dragon show (her brother is Jake Stone is also the singer for Bluejuice). They have been to town a few towns and circumstances have conspired against me seeing them until now. Their four voices are a gorgeous blend of country and folk, which is simultaneously classic and fresh. If I said timeless, it might go some way to explaining that the sound of All My Ex’s Live In Texas sounds as fresh and appropriate for this intimate show at Jive, as it would be at Womadelaide, SXSW, Glastonbury or it would’ve been at Woodstock.
They sing songs about lost loves and relationships going bad, nothing new for folk or country music, but the juxtaposition between the lyrical content and the fun these talented women are clearly having playing together is a marked one. They are telling stories, between songs, goofing around and making each other laugh in that conspiratorial girl gang manner that close friends do. They make jokes about having all gone out with all the members of Sydney alt-country band The Green Mohair Suits and state their intention to marry all the guys Ports. They are great fun. Mainly concentrating on songs from their debut album When We Fall, highlights are many and often. I’m Gonna Get My Heart Cut Out is a heartbreaker about betrayal.
I’m gonna have my heart cut out It keeps letting me down
I keep putting it back into the wrong hands
And watch it get pushed around
I told you I loved you
You said you loved me too
But that was before
I knew what you could do
See You One More Time is about the eventual breakdown of a long distance romance and the urge to just get together one last time to make sure it’s as broken as you think it is. I’m Not That Lonely yet from their first EP (which also has a killer version of The White Stripes Hotel Yorba on it) is great and they do a beautiful interpretation of Tame Impala’s Eventually. When The Sun Comes Up is also about a break up but one with a positive theme.
Finally fortune’s come my way
Finally grey turns to blue
Stars aligned one night
And the moment came
Suddenly I was over you
Taking a page from Ports, they gather all the Irish lads on stage and sing the final number The Devil’s Part without the aid of amplification. With just Katie playing guitar and singing lead, there is eight voices singing on the stage, holding hands, swaying together. It was pretty goddamn beautiful.
They promise to return before too long. I promise you won’t regret attending when they do.
Review by Ian Bell