The Voodoo Lounge in Belfast is compact and bijou to say the least but it’s dark, murky and full of a pulsating and energetic atmosphere that we metal heads seek and destroy. Standing on railway tracks feeling the vibrations and facing an oncoming fast moving freight train would have had nothing on the buzz that circulated this joint tonight, as a mighty army of enthusiasts gathered quickly and jostled for position round the stage. I predicted that when I got home the first thing I’d be doing was digging out my neck and back braces! Diamond Head are here! But first, local legends Terminus set the bar high for tonight’s show.
Terminus released their debut album ‘The Reapers Spiral’ in 2015 and have played festivals such as ‘Keep It True’ (Germany), ‘Metal Magic’ (Denmark) and ‘Up The Hammers’ (Greece). The album has been well received by the underground metal press worldwide. Tonight the band played a rare hometown gig opening for NWOBHM legends – Diamond Head.
The guys just went straight for the jugular – no hesitation – with a look of fury that could fuel a bonfire from vocalist James Beattie (who could get a job with Iced Earth in the morning if he wanted it!) with the title track from their album ‘The Reapers Spiral’. This just blew me away; solid and melodic. This is heavy metal, no questions asked. The crowd were behind them from the off as they delivered their full flavoured, chunky set of no nonsense, great music. Iron Maiden, King Diamond and Savage Grace being among their influences, they are indeed a pedigree band and it’s not hard to see why they were asked to play at the above huge festivals, even though they are still in the toddler stage of their career having only formed in 2012.
Sometimes my job is just beautiful, and some gigs are just perfect, and that’s not me bullshitting anyone! Terminusgave us hell; harmoniously bonded the blistering tracks set free from the twin flying V’s were an awesome sight, as guitarists Paul Duffy and Gavin Coulter shared solo duties that were tighter than a Jewish purse. The rhythm section consisting of David McCallum on bass and David Gillespie on drums chugged and pummelled out the foundations of every tune like a dog with a juicy bone, passionately suffocating us into delirium with the tastiest riffing I’ve heard in ages! The Encylopedists is a perfect example of this and as soon as the gig was over I got myself a CD! I loved the galloping rhythm that is displayed perfectly in a lot of the tunes, and looking around at the crowd, all that could be seen was a flurry of wind milling hairdos. Jeese, I gotta just come out and say it I guess, I LOVED Terminus! I will be seeing them again and I am so proud that we have such high class bands in this wee neck of the woods!
Already soaked through and drenched to the skin after Terminus, every living soul in the Voodoo was beating their fists in the air and chanting Diamond Head to welcome the forefathers and living legends of NWOHM to the clutches of our sweaty arms. Engines revving at full throttle, no time was wasted and as soon as Diamond Head hit the stage all hell broke loose! Just the way we like it in Belfast! What ensued was an exquisite set mostly comprising of their legendary album ‘Lightning To The Nations’ which they kicked off with ‘Wild On The Strrets’ to an overwrought and elated audience. This being my very first live viewing of DH I wasn’t sure what I was in for, but I can assure you that no amount of you tube videos of their concerts had prepared me for the mind blowing set I was finally privy to.
Brian Tatler played most of his solos on his famous ‘Les Paul’ just two inches from my face, and as a guitarist I really do believe this guy deserves more credit. At this point ladies and gentleman I have to say, that as for the rest of the crowd and what was happening behind me I did not know, nor did I care. DiamondHead suck you in like no other band I’ve seen live for quite a while.
Rasmus Bom Andersen took centre stage like he was born on it – and he owned it! Brian Tatler explained to me in the interview he’d given me preceding the show, “I know a good singer when I hear one”. Truer words have never been spoken, this young guy obviously loves Diamond Head and it showed. He was energetic, charismatic and had the whole damn place eating out of the psalms of his hands, singing along with him, chanting the oooo oooo oooohs! A lot! It was an exhilarating high voltage performance from start to finish. Speaking of great performances – I got to mention Karl Wilcox on drums. Dear lord at one point I had to stop moving to just digest what I was seeing, and look on in complete aww and admiration, this man hits drums like they’d stolen his life’s savings! I’ve never seen a man pound a set of skins like that in my life! I wouldn’t want to fall out with Karl!
The set tonight included ‘Diamonds’ and ‘Shout At The Devil’ from the new album that easily blended with their mix of older and timeless classics. It sounds like Diamond Head are on a mission to achieve what should have been rightly theirs in the fame steaks in the first place. ‘Lightning To The Nations’ and ‘Shoot Out The Lights’ sent the place crazy. Or at least that’s what I thought was happening, until after they had a brief breather side stage and came back and gave us a damn good thrashing with ‘Am I Evil’ which took the already ‘Electric’ atmosphere up a few more intense decibels and nearly brought the house down around us. The greatness of the songs are the legacy of this band. Every single track played was done so with passion and precision. The new blood of Rasmus Bom Andersen has indeed as Brian had put it, “injected a new lease of life” into an already bluddy awesome band and kicked them back into pole position.
After tonight’s performance I doubt that I will ever get to see Diamond Head again so up close and personal, I mean come on a band of this calibre really deserves to be packing out venues to a much larger audience, not putting down the Voodoo of course as some major acts have passed through here and loved it. But I for one and the few people I got chatting to were leaving that venue absolutely 100% satisfied, smiling and wrecked! For a 40 year old band to still sound that bloomin awesome, invigorating and inspiring is one thing, but to witness youngsters (teenagers) trying to storm the stage, screaming out the lyrics, and moshing right at the foot of Brian Tatler andRasmus (who was clearly loving his influence over the carnage he was causing) was the most heart-warming sight I’ve seen in recent times. Brian took note.
It was a fantastic night for heavy rock/metal. The up and coming generation that I saw there are still being fed a well-balanced diet of great music. Catch them at a local venue while you still can, you will not be disappointed.
Set List: TERMINUS
THE REAPERS SPIRAL
THE MERCHANT PRINCES
TO ASH TO DUST
Set List: DIAMOND HEAD
WILD ON THE STREETS
LIGHTNING TO THE NATIONS
DIAMONDS (NEW ALBUM)
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT
TO HEAVEN FROM HELL
STARCROSSERS (LOVERS IN THE NIGHT)
SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS
SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (NEW ALBUM)
AM I EVIL
SUCKING MY LOVE
STREETS OF GOLD
WORDS BY BRENDA
PHOTOS BY LIAM KIELT