As the 80s rolled on the over-arching label of heavy metal was such that in the late 80s it wasn't unusual for Belfast's denim clad legions to watch Metallica, Bon Jovi, WASP, Marillion, Anthrax, Kiss and Alice Cooper all within a few months.
Then somewhere in the 90s music journos had to put labels on it all. Thrash Metal, Glam Metal, Speed Metal, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Prog Rock, Adult Rock, Black Metal, Stadium Rock, Death Metal etc. All different. All with some common core of fans who will go to the gigs, all only bothering the charts occasionally, but all having longevity beyond all reason.
Which, by a very (VERY) tortuous route, brings me to Friday....
Was nattering with Kie and Phil of Million$Reload in the Rosetta's salubrious beer garden (best in Belfast!) before they headlined with Heeltap and Stillroom.
I choose, blithely, to paraphrase the converstion here...Phil mentioned that he read this blog, but wondered if and why Million$Reload would appear on a 'metal' blog as they were more 'classic rock'. Mmmm thought I, but then I recalled days when I saw Lepps and Blackfoot and Slayer and Metallica and Kiss and Anthrax...all while during my brief tenure at uni...So I said that 'back in the day' even Lepps were considered metal... Kie laughed "We're not as metal as Def Leppard?Are we?"
But come 10pm at the Rosetta labels were of no concern to anyone. Not that they should be!
Heeltap were on stage and laying down fine licks and tunes that belied their relatively tender years. They have a definite ability to eke out good songs that in less able hands could turn into cliché.
Stillroom were making their first venture into Northern Ireland. Even after winning through to Emergenza and the prospect of playing in front of 30,000 people they were still both nervous and stoked to be playing to a hundred at the Rosie.
They needn't have worried. Like pros they provided a show worthy of a stadium rather than a sparsely populated Rosetta. The band produces a great vibe, have obvious chemistry and have developed a repertoire of songs that span hard rockers, mellower moods and out raunch.
If this is how they perform nervey and on their Belfast début then it will not be long before they return!
Million$Reload, backing their album Anthems of Degeneration, concluded the evening's hard rock fun with a run through of most of the tracks on the platter.
Accomplished musos they are (after all the individual members have been gigging for a while to a consistently high level!) and they have songs that have been honed to a keen edge. The album tracks are now benefitting from more and more live exposure.
But are they metal (or even heavier than Lepps to answer Kie's question)? In this genre obsessed world they probably wouldn't qualify...nor, I'm sure would they want to.
Still I counted 20 people there who would normally be seen headbanging to heavier brethren, nodding their nappers to all three bands.
In the words of Stevie (he was the man responsible for getting the gear on stage, on time, plus another 100+ essentials) it was "damn fine entertainment for a fiver". Never mind what you call it, it was a great night.
And a few honourable mentions now follow (ya don't get this crap in Kerrang or Classic Rock!):
- Alli - my co-conspirator;
- Stevie (see above);
- Andy from the Rosetta (and all the staff);
- Sid....for being Sid;
- Nichola and Stephen (for suggesting new nickname for Grets)
- The Mysterious Barry...;
- Bar staff;
- Taxi firms (for not throwing out my lost phone); and,
- All three bands....Carslberg don't do gigs, but if they did they'd book these three