PORTRAIT @ VOODOO BELFAST, FEBRUARY 1ST, 2015

Spread the metal:

PORTRAIT

@VOODOO BELFAST, FEBRUARY 1ST, 2015
WITH TERMINUS AND RABID BITCH OF THE NORTH

Review by Melanie Brehaut

Photography by Paul Verner @ http://www.livei.co.uk/

Portrait

Anyone in any doubt of the strength of the heavy metal scene in 2015 need only to have visited Voodoo Belfast last Sunday night. Inside, they would have found a pulsing, happy bunch of headbangers who had braved the cold to sample a hefty serving of old school metal.

First up for the crowd’s delectation was local lads Terminus. They opened their set with a squeal of feedback and began piling on bass-heavy grooves and a wealth of tasty riffs. With their Maiden-style gallop and vocalist James Beattie’s classic metal voice, this was old school but with a modern flavour, which went down very well indeed with the gathered crowd.

Skid Row - Ugly Kid Joe - Dead City Ruins at the Limelight Belfast

Song titles such as ‘Poseidon’s Children’, ‘Centaurean’ and ‘Psychohistorians’ lend the tracks a real storytelling air, as well as conveying an interest in myths and history. And although they lose a bit of momentum during the silent gaps between songs, theirs is nonetheless a highly entertaining, pounding set, capped nicely by the aforementioned epic ‘Centaurean’ as their closing track.

Skid Row - Ugly Kid Joe - Dead City Ruins at the Limelight Belfast

Second support act Rabid Bitch of the North are really gaining momentum since signing to Greek label Alone Records, as well as a seemingly renewed determination within the band to really put themselves out there and be noticed. Thus tonight the elated crowd witness a band that is genuine, clearly having a ball and absolutely on fire. From the opening notes of ‘Your Misery’ they sound as tight as a drum, with ballsy riffs, immense guitar solos and impeccable timing. Vocalist Joe McDonnell’s performance is on point and powerful, with That Voice in brilliant form.

Skid Row - Ugly Kid Joe - Dead City Ruins at the Limelight Belfast

Their love of NWOBHM shines throughout songs such as ‘Slave to the Man’, which really showcases McConnell’s range, the rallying cry of ‘Us Against Them’ and the chugging, basstastic ‘Help! I’m Trapped In 1999!’ – the latter clearly a fan favourite.

During new track ‘Green Eyes’ from their just-announced 7” vinyl (see our interview with the band here: www.metal-rules.com/metalnews/2015/02/09/interview-with-rabid-bitch-of-the-north/) one can clearly hear the growth the band have gone through, both musically and in terms of confidence. It’s a beautiful thing, man.

Technically proficient, sonically splendid and – above all – enormously fun, Rabid Bitch are like a thunderstorm encapsulated. Watch this space – this band are going places.

Skid Row - Ugly Kid Joe - Dead City Ruins at the Limelight Belfast

If we were headliners Portrait, we would be a) worried and b) really putting our game faces on after watching that performance! After a protracted wait and a rather Zeppelin-y intro, the crowd are finally treated to the classic heavy metal power of the Swedes.

First impressions immediately screamed ‘WASP’ followed by ‘Maiden’ and even cock rock / glam metal such as Ratt. Mesh-shirted vocalist Per Lengstadt is quite the charismatic figure, almost like a goth Robert Plant, with his own distinct voice that ranged from raspy to clean to falsetto (sometimes seemingly all at once). And goodness me, can he hit those high notes!

Skid Row - Ugly Kid Joe - Dead City Ruins at the Limelight Belfast

The tiny stage is crammed with cascading hair, studs, leather and Flying V’s, and the band’s instruments are really taking a beating. There are definitely elements of thrash and speed metal mixed in, with the vibrant pounding beats a headbanger’s dream. It’s all fast, furious and highly enjoyable.

Skid Row - Ugly Kid Joe - Dead City Ruins at the Limelight Belfast

The band really do give it their all, playing like they’re headlining Wembley Stadium. And although they occasionally tip from ‘homage’ to ‘ripe for parody’ (Lengstadt at one stage bellows “Dedicate your life to heavy metal or DIE!” to the crowd, and the stage is simply crying out for a wind machine to make the members even more photogenic) they deliver their ‘balls to the wall’ heavy metal with bucketloads of charisma and earnest passion.

Skid Row - Ugly Kid Joe - Dead City Ruins at the Limelight Belfast

They play a good selection of tracks from their discography, including ”At the Ghost Gate’ and ‘We Were Not Alone’ from last year’s album ‘Crossroads’, and finish up with the ten minute epic that is ‘Beast of Fire’. In short: a gnarly, pummeling joyride of a set. Overblown? Yes. Hammy? You bet. Terrifically gratifying? Most definitely. EXACTLY, in fact, how a heavy metal show should be.

Skid Row - Ugly Kid Joe - Dead City Ruins at the Limelight Belfast

SETLIST:

At the Ghost Gate

Bloodbath

In Time

Black Easter

Martial Lead

Ageless Rites

Welcome to My Funeral

We Were Not Alone

ENCORE:

Our Roads Must Never Cross

Beast of Fire