NORTHERN IRELAND

"Set for release on March 16, A Plastic Rose have released the first musical offering of 2012, ‘Build From The Ground Up’. Taken from their forthcoming debut album Camera.Shutter.Life, produced at Manor Park by Neal Calderwood, the track shows a distinct compositional progression from the four-piece, with the notable additional of strings and a chorus that retains the anthemic shtick that’s seen them win over many fans over the last few years."

Off the back of their recent performance at this year’s Tennent’s Vital, A Plastic Rose take their uniquely anthemic alt-rock to more modest surroundings tonight in what turns out to be an occasion for risky experiments, excited announcements and first airings of new material. The question is: will it all come off as expected or will good intentions prove just a little too ambitious in the end?

As befits Animal Disco’s nocturnalism, the Belfast-based four-piece emerge after midnight to a giddy reception usually reserved for a homecoming show or eagerly-anticipated reunion. But as frontman Gerry Norman quickly emphasises (and certainly not for the first time tonight) the band’s set is being recorded, live, and will be made available directly after the show. Predictably, then, a keen sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ takes hold and A Plastic Rose launch headfirst into ‘My Avalanche’.

Quickly followed by the equally-as euphoric ‘Colour Blue’, it’s heartening to see a band invest so much gurning passion so early on into a performance. And with a healthy section of the crowd dotingly raising their hands and chanting like worshippers at some Christian Rock shindig, the would-be burden of being recorded live only seems to bring out the best in both the band and their-booming faithful.

With silly banter between the guys becoming very much a part of the set, guitarist/vocalist Ian McHugh kindly asks the crowd to film (and later e-mail him their clips of) the next song, a first-rate performance of ‘Metal Man’ that not only sees drummer David Reid and bassist Troy Heaton bounce off each other exceptionally well, but also ensures the band reach a fully-involved peak sustained on ‘Silence You’, ‘Fade and Disappear’ and the call-and-response singalongability of ‘Oceans’.

Better still, with ‘Sun’s A Shadow’ and its burrowing refrain of “It’s the same as I am” summoning yet more devotion from the crowd and an encore of new song ‘Foreign Soil’ going down well, Gerry casually announces that the band will headline a show this Halloween at the Ulster Hall just before tearing straight into ‘All You Know Will Love and Die’. It’s a shrewd move and one that ensures yet more commitment from the crowd.

At the end up, despite some erroneous claims that it was “one of the best shows Belfast has ever seen”, the inevitable set closer of ‘Kids Don’t Behave Like This’ rounds off a stellar performance from a band very much on the verge of doing great things and to a much larger audience. So much so, if you were fortunate to nab one of the live recordings of the performance, you may do well to keep it in a safe place.

Brian Coney, 4 Oct 2011

Auntie Annies, Belfast Friday 30th September 2011

Tonight closes an old chapter and opens a new one in the A Plastic Rose story. Not only is this gig going to be recorded and burned onto CD before Auntie Annie's closes, it is most probably going to be the last time A Plastic Rose play many of the songs on tonight's set list. There's a huge crowd upstairs in Animal Disco tonight and you can understand why, this band have created a huge following since their formation in 2006 and the opportunity to be part of their history on a live CD could end up being one of those, “I was there” moments.

A Plastic Rose open proceedings with a real oldie called 'My Avalanche' off their first self released EP entitled 'Five Second Stare', you can tell the crowd is full of die hard fans as they know every single word and the enthusiasm of the crowd only spurs on the bands already energetic and exciting performance. The boys then break into something a bit harder off their latest release 'The Promise Notes', with guitarist and co-frontman Ian McHugh taking lead vocals for 'The Metal Man'.

Some of the bands most passionate performances are when the main focus is on Ian, as he gives his all on stage and you feel that the words coming out of his mouth really mean something to him. A Plastic Rose show us that they're not just one of the friendliest bands in Northern Ireland but that they are also one of the most down to earth bands too as Ian asks everyone to film this song with their smartphones to make a video out of later and adds, “if you have a rubbish [phone] like me then it's alright.”

If there's one thing A Plastic Rose can do it's work the crowd, at this point we are now the “APR Choir”, and lead vocalist Gerry Norman is our conductor. As he makes sure we are pitch perfect and does a couple of practices with us he finally announces that it's time for the real deal, he counts us in to 'Oceans' and the place erupts. You can barely hear Gerry over the singing of the crowd and the non stop rhythmic clapping, 'Oceans' soars in a way not too often heard in Animal Disco and is the band at it's best; it's epic, bold and bigger than life.

It's sad to think that some of these songs won't make it on to their full length debut album but it should also be noted that some songs are also best left in the past, songs like 'Indian Sheets' feel like filler now compared to the quality of the songs they are writing now, but in an unplanned encore we are reminded why A Plastic Rose are the band they are today, finishing up with 'Kids Don't Behave Like This' and somehow provoking an even bigger reaction than that of 'Oceans'. You haven't truly experienced A Plastic Rose until you've seen them live at midnight.

James J Magill, ATL

"‘Kids Don’t Behave Like This’ is a swooning, soaring piece of proto-shoegazing glory, vocal rippling with barely-concealed emotion until the last minute, when he explodes with a Vedder-esque roar, drawing a Biffy-tinged veil over proceedings.....Kids should behave like this"

Alternative Ulster Magazine March 09

"In an age of style over substance, we need to rely on bands like a plastic rose, who haven't forgotten about the art of a decent f**king tune. Which isn't to say they aren't a dapper bunch.

Rigsy, BBC Across The Line

BBC ATL Live review of the Stiff Kitten gig with Kowalski 4th June 2008

http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/atl/review_specific187416.shtml

Speaking of arenas, A Plastic Rose seem to think they're headlining one tonight. They're pointing at people, getting us to clap along and even suggesting we 'sing the words' to tracks we've never heard. It's to their credit, in that it actually works a treat. For an opening act, they do the business in warming us up, or at least getting the crowd to gather down the front. It turns out that 'All You Know and Love Will Die', the track we've been hammering on ATL, isn't a good indication of what they're about. Insanely catchy, a little spikey and a touch (whisper it) emo, it's more bubblegum than the rest of a ballsy collection of songs. And what is it about cocky front-men tonight? Gerry Norman is a star in the making.

BBC ATL Session Review

We've all been there. At the end of a long evening spent trying to convince a date that you are a kind, funny, thoughtful, wonderful individual with whom they can entrust their loving heart, a stranger politely inquires if you would like to buy a rose for your companion. Naturally, you say no, but this exposes your lack of generosity and romanticism. "But it was a plastic rose", you wail in vain as your hopes of a liason turn on their heels and hail a cab. What can you do to redeem yourself? Well, listening to a superb ATL session by a band called A Plastic Rose might be a good start. Wistfully look back on that lost amorous opportunity and vow not to let the mask slip next time while taking in the sounds of 'All That You Know And Love Will Die', 'Silence You!' and 'The Colour Blue'. They may not lighten your mood, but you will know that others have experienced your pain.