The island of Ireland holds a special place in the collective hearts of the members of Corrosion Of Conformity. Although the classic line up of Pepper Keenan, Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin had got their act back together a few months previously, and played their first live show together in 14 years a few evenings previously in Manchester, the band freely admit that it was the positively rabid response they received in both Belfast and Dublin slightly less than 11 months ago that truly re-ignited the fires in their bellies and made them re-affirm their belief in both themselves and their music, as well as the fact that the fans actually wanted the living shit kicked clean out of them in the way only COC can do! Now, with not even a year past since that pair of shows in June 2015, the band returned to Erin’s shore to repay that faith with another pair of sold-0ut shows.
Opening honours for the Belfast leg falls to Zlatenera, a group with an (un)healthy fascination with singing about Satan while eschewing the needless histrionics of face paint and the like (and with their tongues somewhat wedged in their collective cheeks). Their trademark ‘Strangers In The Night’ intro belies the demonic summoning to come, as the band deliver dense grooves which are both taut and tense and also grunt and growl with dark intentions. Their atmospheric vibrations get the audience going right from the beginning and there’s a healthy crowd gathered stage front throughout their allotted half an hour or so. The ‘Satan trilogy’ is even more bad-ass as normal, as the band up the aggression and vitriol for this, the biggest gig of their career to date, with an angry vehemence in both their subject matter and its dleivery, all of which serves to earn them many new fans (most least in the shape of Woody Weatherman himself, who watches discreetly from the rear of the club.
A wall of dense, hypnotic bass marks the arrival of the headliners onto the confined stage, and is momentarily coupled with the wail of psyhed-out guitar feedback which immediately entrances the room and has vitrually everyone on the room held in its captivating embrace right from the off. “It’s good to see you guys again,” comments Pepper in one of his rare spoken interjections, raising a bottle of Buckfast aloft in salute of the faithful crammed into the stage area in front of him and his bandmates. “This is our dicking around tour,” the frontman goes on. “It’s only been a year since we’ve been here, and since then we’ve signed a new record deal – and you guys helped up to start it all up again!”. It’s a thanks that raises a suitably massive cheer…
There does seem to be a slight misunderstanding going among some of the fans down the front: a few try to open up the first pit of the evening during ‘Seven Days’, but by ‘Paranoid Opoid’ the whole affair has descended into a handbags-style pushing match! However, this does not detract from the feeling of vibrant electricity that is in the air, as COC fill the room with tight rhythms and majestically morbid melodies fuelled by a dark blooziness that is as energetic as it is cathartic.
They answer their own set-closing question of ‘Who’s Got The Fire?’ before taking what Keenan describes as “a five minute beer break”. Almost to the second they return with ‘Vote With A Bullet’ – a song with a particular vitriolic irony in this part of the world, as NI is four days short of an election as the frontman literally spits venom in his vocal, before final closer ‘Clean My Wounds’ sees Keenan speak again about how playing Ireland last summer helped he and his bandmates back on the road to musical recovery and how that path of rehabilitation will continue now that “we’re getting our shit together…”. On the evidence of this incendiary performance, they’ve most certainly done that :-)
Setlist: Bottom Feeder / King Of The Rotten / Broken Man / Heaven’s Not Overflowing / Long Whip/Big America / Wiseblood / Seven Days / Paranoid Opoid / 13 Angels / Albatross/Sabbath End / Stonebreaker / Who’s Got The Fire?
Encore: Vote With A Bullet / The Door / Clean My Wounds
- Photographs by The Dark Queen.