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| No Oil Paintings live on the Belfast Barge
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No Oil Paintings live on the Belfast Barge

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The Venue

The Belfast Barge

Lanyon Place, Belfast

The Lineup

No Oil Paintings

Lonesome George

The Details

26th June 2015


They may be No Oil Paintings but on stage they're beautiful!

It’s no secret that there’s a whole lot of love over at Folk and Tumble for No Oil Paintings. We met them jamming in the pub at Open House Festival last year and they’re set to take up a month long residency by the seaside in Bangor once again in 2015. Also tucked away within the pages of the same festival’s programme is something called Hillbilly Hell but I need not visit there for I have already been. Come with us as we journey to the brink of Hillbilly Hell and back.

Hell often gets a fairly negative vibe. I imagine it probably has its downsides but on entering The Belfast Barge on a hot summer night for a show with No Oil Paintings you’re only going to get the best bits. The hold of that little ship is a sweltering inferno. Sweat breaks on the brow of every man and woman alike as they swig on sweet red wine, Buckfast and all manner of concoctions. We all know that Satan himself went down to Georgia to do battle on the fiddle and journeyed through the music of every troubadour and traveller since. You want proof that the devil really does have all the best tunes? We’ve got it.

Lonesome George are rattling through some sterling tunes as we get comfortable on board. If one thing has a worse connotation in my mind than hell it’s the phrase “world music”. Usually it’s jazz riddled nonsense, stacked on the shelves of Guardian readers but tonight these Belfast boys are ripping up genres melding polka, lessons in French, what they’ve dubbed “Carribbean Irish” and by God it’s good. There’s a saying about variety, in fact, there’s a Lonesome George song tonight entitled ‘Variety Is The Spice Of Life’ and this has truly been something a little gloriously different.

No Oil Paintings take the stage to rapturous applause. There’s no doubt these guys are one of the hottest new acts in one of the hottest venues in town in all the most literal of senses. Christopher Kelly throws energetic shapes behind the resonator, powerful vocals and a devilish glint in the eye. Sean and James Doone bulk out the sound on banjo and bass. There’s a real old time string band vibe about these guys and yet an edgier rock and roll feel – from darkness to glorious light in a matter of songs. Old world country footstompers, tender ballads and rousing choruses your granny could sing along to.

In fact, grandma Doone is down the front doing just that.


For serious fans of country and folk music, No Oil Paintings are a must-see. Their repertoire of covers is where they cut their teeth at Open House Festival and in Madden’s Bar. Flat and Scruggs’ ‘Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms’ brings the party on board, in contrast to the Townes Van Zandt cover ‘Rake’, which casts a darker shadow, melancholic and brooding, George Sloan’s cymbal crashes drowning out the lapping of waves and crunching of plastic barware.

They’re no one trick pony though. Each member of the band bringing character, a vocal, a stellar performance on their instrument of choice and having come together to compose their own material it’s only fitting to end the evening on ‘Exodus’, the lead track from the aforementioned EP. The standing ovation, the camera flashes, the queue at the merchandise table; it all speaks volumes of the hard work, the blood, literal sweat and possible tears that make a night like this a true live music experience.

We’ve all had a few drinks and partied a little too hard. On stage, shirts are torn asunder and arms raised aloft in triumph. If this has been hell then heaven can wait.