As part of the European tour from this trio the gig in The Button Factory could have been seen by the bands - like the previous night in Bristol - could have been seen a warm-up for the extended run of dates across the continent; but that didn't mean each band wasn't giving their all.
From Santa Cruz Archer provided competent contemporary thrash that was engaging and relatively fresh but it fell on relatively deaf ears as the venue filled up. Sure, they were good, but perhaps needed more time on stage to engage the audience.
In contrast Harlott brought a sense of humour, and more importantly a sense of humour, as their opening was plagued by technical problems. Rather than be daunted by this the band used banter and chat with the audience and band mates to ease through the problems.
Despite having to drop a song from their set their take on thrash, with classic bay area elements mixed with Teutonic thrash á la Kreator Harlott ripped through their set with real purpose.
Andy Hudson may lead the line as vocalist and lead shredder, but it is clear this is a unit. Ryan Butler (guitar), Tom Richards (bass and backing vox) and Tim Joyce (drums) Harlott are clearly a band revelling in this opportunity to rise from 'Down Under' to storm Europe.
While many reviews may focus on the humour - and yes everyone did chant 'Hairy Dick' - this is a band with a real tight set of songs and the chops to deliver them: 'Heretic' in particular stood out. Definitely a band to watch out for the next time they come this way.
For guitar aficionados Jeff Waters has always been amongst the elite, despite flying ('V') under the radar from the mainstream media. He plays with a precision and, as importantly, with a sense of fun in every riff and every solo - not to mention the wit inherent in songs and between tracks.
In Dublin Annihilator were a force of nature; a thrash 'phantasmagoria' of new tracks and older favourites. And, it is to their credit that while fan choices such as 'Never, Neverland' were in evidence the band aired tracks from their latest release.
The title track from 'Suicide Society', the crushing 'Snap and Creepin' Again' were greeted with the same ardour as the likes of 'Brain Dance' and set closer 'Alison Hell'.
Waters, as always plays with ferocity and fun in equal measure, but the band are not a supporting cast to the man's six-string genius. They are a thrash quartet determined to deliver. Ryan Hinks (bass) and Mike Harshaw (drums) combine with Aaron Homma (guitar) to provide an intense backdrop.
Certainly with Waters returning to lead vocals the focus is on him throughout, but this is a band that are tight, coherent and corroding all doubts that they are still relevant in 2015. They are more than relevant, they are playing with a ferocity and freshness that deserves more attention.
Review by Jonny
Photos from Darren McVeigh