Pick Your Rock and Metal

Sunday, September 07, 2014

LIVE REVIEW: Rock & Metal magic strikes a spell over the Voodoo thanks to Villanova Junction, Conjuring Fate & Maverick

BELFAST'S Voodoo had a serious spell of rock and metal cast upon it's Fountain Street foundations as the gods of noise gathered to join the audience for a triple bout of hard rockin' and heavy metal being laid down upon those there to witness it.

The date (Friday, 5th September) had originally been scheduled with Maverick supporting Snakebite, but with the 'Bite not able to sink its fangs the Maverick crew invited Conjuring Fate and Villanova Junction to join them - and what an inspired move it was.

Troupers to the end, hard edged blues act Villanova Junction had to deal with a lack of regular stickman, so rather than their usual set they said they were "just going to jam" in the words of vocalist and guitarist Joel Harris, who then proceeded to lay down blistering solos, blues jamming, and dextrous runs up and down the fretboard as Josh Bickerstaff kept the bass nailed tight.

Guest vocalists, stand-in drummers...it made no difference. Playing their own songs and some inspired covers such as a slowed down 'Johnny Be Good' and 'Sweet Home Chicago' Villanova Junction proved that when there is talent adversity can be shunned for the show.

Many moons ago, the lord that was Tommy Vance shared his wisdom over the airwaves, and Kerrang! actually reported on metal, the music form that became dubbed as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal emerged and snarls, musicianship and skill counted.

Taking that 'hallowed' format, giving it a contemporary edge, and then kicking the living daylights out of it all for the sake of the music, the glory and the audience Conjuring Fate arose from the denizens and scenesters of Fountain Street on Friday, casting them a dismayed glance over their shoulders and shat a pure metal performance on the heads of all.

Unadulterated, unafraid, the Fate, led by Tommy's heroic vocals, flanked by Karl, Phil, Steve and backed by Boggy proved just why they are worthy of opening for Dragonforce, but for many also why they can stand toe to toe with many of the so-called 'big bands'.

Trading solos, riffs - and throwing the occasional 'proper' metal pose - Phil and Karl seared throughout the set. And, Phil showed the real reason why you put your foot on the monitor when playing with a flying 'V'. It's to nestle that awkward body somewhere...and the guitar too.

Drawing from their ep, 'House on Haunted Hill' and showing a varied and stylish take on their material. Recent shows in Dublin and Keady (on the same day!) have added yet more confidence.

But to have that musical swagger you got to be able to deliver on all levels - which undoubtedly Conjuring Fate did. The recent incarnations of bands like Helloween could do well to try to achieve this level of confident songwriting and performance. No re-treads here, Conjuring Fate were driving on brand new slicks as they tore across the Belfast evening.

Maverick - well this is where one has to take a back seat momentarily from the noise and buzz surrounding this ten-legged hard rock/metal act and try to be objective....

Ahhh fuck that - Maverick deserve every ounce of praise they get and every ounce they will get in the future. Just witness them perform, chuck objectivity out the window and get your head banging and fists in the air.

Dave Balfour stalks the stage, grin affixed, roaring for all his might as if the sleaze of the Sunset Strip of the mid-80s and the Hammy Odeon of glory metal days had been moved lock, stock and barrel of beer to Northern Ireland.

Ryan, finger fitness now restored, and Ric sounding like their combined 12 strings were 36 strings not 24, while Richie (bass) and Mike (drums) provided a musical backdrop that was as every bit precise as it was muscular.

With new album 'Quid Pro Quo' due for release at the end of November, Maverick aired new song, familiar anthemic rockers, metallic edge and downright good time madness was front and centre.

The airing of the lead release from the album 'Paint by Numbers' was just one of the many highlights. And, the moment somewhere in time that should have been caught by many more came when Maverick were joined on stage by Tommy and Phil from Conjuring Fate for Maiden's 'Wasted Years'.

From Villanova Junction through Conjuring Fate to Maverick: there is clear and evident proof that no years were wasted in preparing for musical majesty as the spellbound crowd acclaimed all three bands who wove their rock and metallic mystic magic at the Voodoo.

Review by Jonny

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