Pick Your Rock and Metal

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fine fettle for the Metal!

There is a conventional technique for reviewing gigs…usually near the bar, preferably seated, and having blagged a copy of the set list earlier in order that listening to the band(s) does not interfere with looking good and nattering with all the cool dudes.

Never had much truck with that attitude, though I have done it once or twice.

Best place to review a gig is at the front, or damn close. Better still, in the pit!

Ok, ok, objectivity is usually tossed out the window, but you do get a sense of the band’s engagement with the crowd, how much the crowd is ‘up for it’. The downside is that it is hard to look the band straight in the eye after being in the middle, yelling along to the songs, moshing, crowd surfing etc.

When the latest Bulletproof Promotions/TKO monster line-up touched down in the Spring and Airbrake recently objectivity was out the window. Down the front, yelling along, head-a-banging etc.

A line-up of Civilian, Panic Cell, Ill Nino and Drowning Pool was always guaranteed to bring out the thrasher in Belfast Metalheads Reunited’s ancient bones, and it lived up to form.

In particular Panic Cell deserve note. As well as Luke being one of the nicest guys in the business he also leads a band that has matured on the stage. PC have always a potency in their songs, but their work ethic is honing the band to a keen edge in producing a real edge on stage.

New single Fallen marks a (slight) departure for the band, but fans need not fret for the attitude. “There’s a lot of even heavier than usual tracks on out new album,” Luke assured Belfast MetalHeads Reunited before the gig.

Ill Nino are a bit of an enigma. Clearly they are a band with real talent. On CD/download they are good, but it is only on stage that they take off. They deserve to be playing to larger audiences. Moreover, the modest success does not take account of what they consistently deliver.

And, if the experience of their gig colleagues Drowning Pool is anything to go by, it will be a roller coaster ride before they get anything like the attention from larger audiences they deserve.

Drowning Pool’s history is littered with triumphs and tragedies, but with 16-odd weeks of 2007 already past, the Texans are emerging older, wiser and damn ready to rip apart the doubters.

“Yeah, it’s been tough for the guys,” singer Ryan McCombs, formerly of Soil told Belfast Metalheads Reunited.

Aside from the tragedy that has been raked over too often online, McCombs - who has been in the band over a year now - gave an insight to other problems dogging the band.

“Management, labels weren’t always helping, but now we’ve got good management and a label that’s behind us. Too often in the past you'd find yourself going to meetings and while you’re struggling to pay the mortgage the business guys are arriving in Mercedes. That's not what's happening now.”

From their onstage form in Belfast DP are proving that the Mercedes men that fucked them over in the past got it wrong. Like Ill Nino DP hit the Belfast stage determined to prove a point.

Of course, ‘Bodies’ was the song that got the pit really going, but the depth and range of songs and their arrangements showed they are building towards real potency.

“The new album’s sounding good,” said McCombs. ”We’re putting mixes and checking it out while we’re on this tour, logging on and sending things back and forth online.”

We might all live in this virtual, wi-fi world, but it is live that rock fans live for and DP, Nino and PC excel onstage. Roll on the next time in Belfast!


PS – Didn’t blag the set lists, because in an unprofessional way…I forgot to...
PPS – apologies to Civilian, I’m a little hazy on the set, but headbanging along to y’all sobered me up enough to recall the rest of the line-up; truly a service fulfilled…next time!
PPS - Thanks to Luke Bell and Ryan McCombs, top blokes

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