It’s always great to see a local venue rammed to the rafters on a week night – and even more satisfying when it’s in support of some of the best in local talent, and not because it’s some visiting ‘big name’ band. That’s why this particular night starts off on a high – the venue is already more than half full by the time the Planet Mosh team arrived – and just gets better as it progresses.
Promoter Philip McCarroll (who has been flying the flag for the ‘Sounds Of Northern Ireland’ through the brand of the same name for several years now) has once again assembled an ace line up of bands with which to sate the palate of even the most discerning rocker. As PM wanders in from the balmy evening outside, The Screaming Eagles have just taken to the stage, and proceed to show plenty of potential with a solid set of classic rock ‘n’ boogie – even managing to pull off a more than passable version of ‘Immigrant Song’.
Sweet Taste are playing only their second gig with a new rhythm section, but the intense rehearsals leading up to the unveiling of the new line-up certainly pay dividends, as the band are already sounding extremely tight and the new songs are spot-on. From the raucous, party anthem opener of ‘Hanging Around In Bars’ through the infesctious funk of ‘Dancing Shoes’ and the slow bluesiness of potential single ‘Wonder’ to the closing pumping groove of ‘Meltdown’, the band’s Aerosmith-meets-Zeppelin vibe definitely does leave a sweet taste in this bitter old rock ‘n’ roll heart.
Million Dollar Reload are returning to the Empire stage after too long a gap (of all of nine months) to promote their recently released second album, the stunningly brilliant ‘A Sinner’s Saint’ – and the party really starts as Belfast’s finest sleaze rockers tear into the dirt-under-the-fingernails barroom boogie of ‘Pretty People’ . The rip-roaring punkishness of ‘Fight The System’ and the swaggering ‘Can’t Tie Me Down’, while stunning in their delivery, are mere appetizers for the awesome new single, ‘Blow Me Away’, which proceeds to do that to the entire venue: anthem follows anthem, as first ‘Tattoos And Dirty Girls’ and then the catchier-than-the-Ebola-virus ‘Bullets In The Sky’ and the punch-to-the-heart emotion of ‘I Am The Rapture’ have even the most hardened barfly turning their backs on their pints and joining in the fun.
The band, as always, are on stunning form, and are clearly enjoying themselves, especially on a riotous version of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Cowboy Song’, which takes the track to a whole new level with its heartfelt emotion and joyous energy. And, finishing the set by taking their foot off the pedal, ever so slightly, with the Skynyrd-esque blooze of ‘Broken’ is a stunning end that a lesser band would never even have dreamed of attempting – never mind managing to pull off with such aplomb and charisma.
Fermanagh punks Filthy Angels had the unenviable task of rounding off the evening’s proceedings but, to be honest – despite delivering a competent set – they were very much an afterthought and a pleasant enough backdrop to the last pint of the night as the M$R party machine wound down….
Sweet Taste photograph by Colin Patterson.
Million Dollar Reload photograph by Colin McCann.
• ‘A Sinner’s Saint’ is out now on Frontiers Records.
• Million Dollar Reload play the Barn Stage at Sunflower Fest at Tubby’s Farm, Lisburn (with Sweet Taste) on Friday (August 17th). Future live dates include the Comrades Rock Club in Ballyclare (with Filthy Angels and The Screaming Eagles) on September 7th, the Playhouse Theatre in Portrush (with Voodoo Dogg) on September 28th and The Nerve Centre in Londonderry (with Trucker Diablo) on October 6th. They also play an acoustic set in support of The Quireboys at the Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill, on October 12th. For updates, see www.facebook.com/Million-Dollar-Reload-official
• Sweet Taste play Sunflower Fest (as above) on August 17th, the Diamond Rock Club (with Pay*ola), Ahoghill, on September 21st and Comrades Rock Club in Ballyclare (with Trucker Diablo and St Hellfire) on October 5th. For updates, see http://www.facebook.com/sweettasteband