Exmagician live @ Cyprus Avenue 03 April 2016

Sadly the last two weeks has seen the demise of both The North Sea and Death In The Sickroom. I had held high hopes for both bands, particularly for The North Sea, whose debut album ‘Anniversary’ was my own favourite record of 2015. Another band who seemed to be destined for big things before their split in 2013 were Cashier No 9, The Belfast five piece had been going strong and their record ‘To The Death Of Fun’ produced by David Holmes had received critical acclaim.

So it was better news this week when I read that former Cashier No 9 members, Danny Todd and James Smith had gone on to form a new band called Exmagician. The debut release under this new moniker ‘Scan The Blue’ was released on the 25th of last month and is fast receiving rave reviews.

Tonight’s gig in Cork’s Cyprus Avenue is the second show of the album launch tour and only their second as a band. Recruited at “short notice” to support Exmagician was a talented local singer/songwriter by the name of James OR. OR was unfortunately only performing to an audience of 3 but did lighten the mood by taking the time to introduce himself to them individually and learn all three names. His song-writing and guitar playing was top notch but his song titles did leave a little to be desired. ‘Last Night A DJ Played The Frames’ was one of the shorter titles and gave a good insight into who James OR’s influences may be.

The audience had vastly increased by the time Exmagician took to the stage but it was still a long way from capacity. Early on in proceedings, lead Singer Danny joked that there was now far too many for him to copy James OR and learn all the names. Exmagician (who tonight are a four piece with former members of General Fiasco and LaFaro respectively in tow) have certainly evolved from the Cashier No 9 days and now possess a harder, grittier sound.

This is evident in the opening bars of ‘Kiss That Wealth Goodbye’ the lead track on ‘Scan The Blue’ and the first song on tonight’s set too. The set-list is mostly comprised of album tracks as you may expect with the old Cashier number ‘Oh Pity’ thrown in for good measure. Stand out tracks ‘Job Done’ and ‘The Rot Sets In’ in particular were indicative of the new sound while ‘Place Your Bets’ for me was the highlight of a great show.

The band hinted that they only getting started and finding their feet a few times over the course of the night so I think anyone who sees Exmagician later this year will be in for a treat.

Words by Anthony Kelly