COSTUMES. You wouldn't expect a live music review to start with costumes. It's not a fuckn' fashion blog! But, the point in referring to four bands' costumes is attention to detail.
When the four acts, headed by Therion, hit the stage on Saturday February 10th, that act of putting on a costume, warpaint or whatever gives the audience a focus, and gets the band into the mindset of providing entertainment.
And, this tour package poured out as much entertainment as the beer taps were providing...
Manhattan's Midnight Eternal set the tone for the evening with a searing set kicking off with Raine Hilai's commanding presence and showcasing all her experience on stage in various formats.
Featuring songs from their début release the likes of ''When Love and Faith Collide' and 'The Lantern' had the crowd wowed by the playing of guitarist Richard Fischer. Closer 'Signs of Fire' was delightful and stunning in equal parts.
Terrifying and wonderful at the same time Elli Berlin led the sonic shock of Germany's Null Positiv. Edgier and more metallic than some in the line-up there was a distinct sense of a band out to prove a point.
Singing mainly in their native tongue it was Martin's guitar counterpoints to Elli's presence that made it such an impressive selection of songs with 'Trauma' and 'Koma' stand-outs.
With just two bands into the set it was clear that this was already a special evening for those that made it along to the Limelight on a damp Saturday evening.
Russia's Imperial Age's progression to a full-blown operatic symphonic saw them take on a complete metal opera in the shape of 'The Legacy of Atlantis'
Adorned in appropriate 'imperial' costumes Alexander, flanked by Jane and Anna were flawless in their delivery - they may have played Death Guard', but their set was a live and breathing beast.
Immersive and expansive the confidence and delivery Imperial Age set the bar very high...but then again it was Therion who were to follow.
With the three and a half hour 'Beloved Antichrist' under their belts and earning rave reviews, could they deliver the balance and poise to merge their recorded ambitions and fans' favourites?
Of course they could - this is Therion after all!
As soon as the strains of 'Theme of Antichrist' echoed out Christofer was the master ringleader in a masterful performance, punctuated with thrills and dexterity.
'Bring Her Home', 'My Voyage Carries On' and 'Temple of New Jerusalem' were among the tracks from 'Beloved Antichrist' but what was really impressive was that new and old songs formed a coherent set.
Closing duo of songs 'The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah' and 'To Mega Therion' left the Limelight crowd breathless and grinning.
From New York, Berlin, Moscow and Stockholm these international visitors to Belfast were afforded a deserved welcome - and in return they all delivered something special.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh