WHILE they were moaning and whinging a mile away about some over-hyped R&B singer – now known for baring all in a field rather than her banal music – being an hour-and-half late, an unseasonably hot Spring and Airbrake was toasting a Thrash-tacular Thursday night as Fallen Fate, Gama Bomb and Onslaught laid it down like the fallow years of the 90s had never existed.
The morning news this Firiday, paying more attention to Rhianna’s breasts than is healthy, was filled with teeny terrors and chaperone's complaining about a 90 minute delay – they’ve obviously never experienced the real marathon delays of Guns ‘n’ Roses! In contrast the stage times at the Spring and Airbrake were spot on, nailed as tight as the riffs.
Fallen Fate, hailed by Onslaught’s Sy Keeler as the “future”, laid down a tasty set of tight riffage and some nice solos in a slew of tracks from the album ‘The Virus Has Spread’. Origin of Sin and Descendancy stood out.
For Gama Bomb it would have been easy to kick back and enjoy the homecoming banter of band coming back to its roots. Not so. Aside from the ‘raking’ about and the ease of relating to the crowd, Gama Bomb kept the 80s firmly in their sights, with humour and verve.
Three Witches, OCP and Bullet Belt showed the ability of Gama Bomb to keep it tight and sharp as well as explore their heritage. Philly’s range, allied to tight lead and rhythm work from Joe and Domo was under-pinned by Paul and Joe keeping it tight and focussed. There are those – thankfully few – who see the jokey sci-fi, horror and film themes of Gama Bomb and forget that this is one excellent metal band, who deliver one excellent show live.
Onslaught are top blokes. Full stop, end of story. Having had the opportunity to interview, Andy, Nige and Sy before the show it was not just an 'impression', but the sheer simple fact that they’ve been round the block, round the streets, earned their stripes and grown up as men in a field were too many boys try to tread. Men know that you get respect when you give respect: simple respect for the fans (and a forty-something interviewer/reviewer too) does not come easily for many bands; those bands should learn from Onslaught.
With the air of seasoned headliners and festival favourites Onslaught know how to build the anticipation before ripping into a set spanning almost the entirety of their 28 year career. Metal Forces, to coin a phrase, were ready to join the thrash as Belfast raised the horns in adulation.
‘The Sound of Violence’, ‘Planting the Seeds of Hate’, ‘Killing Peace’...there’s no point in trooping out the songs, if you’re fans you know them, and if you were there you’re still remembering them. Sy’s “let’s see how loud” chat with the crowd was a wee bit of fun that could tire with repetition, but in the context of the night it worked; too many bands use this tactic making it seem a little clichéd at times. Given the vocal desterity the man maintained throughout, from sinister growls to the high end, it is a minor offence.
Having asked Andy earlier about technology and music he talked comfortably about how the band was stretching themselves. And, dominating his axe Andy was easily showing how the solos are getting ever more fluid, while Nige’s counter-foil and musical ripostes were pushing the sound tighter and tighter to what Thrash should be – controlled fury, great sound and the ancient art of headbanging in much evidence in response..
The encore was led-off by what Sy claiming that their cover of Motorhead classic was at the behest of the label, which, whether it was the case or not, was delivered with alacrity; taking the well-worn track and raising the bar yet higher.
Onslaught kicked round the block in the 80s and came back stronger after their temporary break; a break that Nige said earlier had him saying “never again”. Belfast was glad he, and his compadrés , came back. There is a purity about bands like Onslaught – given the second crack of the whip they have taken it from the hands of poseur ringmaster and the thrash lion now roars mightier than ever. If there is justice and not just us Onslaught will be in the vanguard.