Yet again another school night in Belfast and tonight it hosts another gargantuan line up, this time in the form of US Trio Of Mice & Men, Wage War and Sylar playing their last UK date before jetting off back to the states. The Mandela Hall is the setting for a what will be a monumental night of music.
A beautiful sunny day in Belfast means the crowd are a tad slow at gathering in front of the stage, but don’t be fooled, by the time Sylar announce their arrival the huddled masses are running towards the front screaming for more. This Metal & Hardcore quintet from Queens NY are bruising the Belfast crowd form the off. With dual vocalists sharing the melodies whilst the band batters all who watch on, with a furious performance Sylar aren’t here to simply make up the numbers. A powerhouse delivery has the crowd moshing from the off, with a circle forming in the middle of the hall their effect is immediate. Their first European tour courtesy of Of Mice & Men will no doubt win over more than a few fans by the response in the room, by the time the guys wrap up their set to yet another savage track the screams off appreciation are deafening and greatly appreciated by the NY Quintet.
These guys have a savage reputation as a live band, and boy do they deliver. Thumping double bass shakes the room, they lay down a torrent of riffs worthy of tearing the walls down around us, frontman Briton Bond slams the cymbals of the drumkit as Stephen Kleusener lays down killer rhythms that you feel through your whole body. A behemoth band: raising the bar with a brutal and vicious performance worthy of their reputation. A long way from home, Ocala Florida Belfast has opened its arms are welcomed this savage five piece into their black hearts.
The crowd are giving as good as they get, feeding off the intense energy from the stage whilst Wage War just up the performance song by song. The front row behind the barrier head banging in sync and the intensity of the set increases, a crazy and beautiful performance all in one ensures Wage War’s performance will not be forgotten. Part two of a 3 part killer line up, time for Belfast to catch its breath before the main act.
Of Mice & Men
The time is nigh for this balls out quartet to hit the stage and hit it they do, a blistering opening to an already full on show as Of Mice & Men rip their way into their monstrous set. These heavyweights lay down a set of Titanic proportions that have the crowd gagging for more. Like a demon unleashed they bombard their audience with colossal riff laden tunes one after another, three raised platforms spread across the stage allow front man Aaron Pauley and his two guitarists Philip Manasala and Alan Ashby even more presence on stage.
Their groove-laden hits fill the room as the crowd consumes each heavy and hearty number, like a bottomless pit they call for more. Of Mice & Men deliver over and over again, a circle opens up in the hall as the double base rips its way through the core of the room. Like an assault on the senses each track hits you like a blow to the chest, and it feels good.
The gathered masses have an insatiable appetite for all things Of Mice & Men, whatever they throw at the crowd the give back in equal measure. The room in banging with the vast weight of their super-colossal recordings: as they echo far and wide. Belfast is getting an education tonight and nobody’s complaining.
Battered and bruised Belfast can take it like the best, it’s a rare thing to get your ass handed to you and thank those who handed out the kicking, but tonight is the exception. A stellar line up delivered on all levels.
Of Mice & Men wrapped up a majestic performance and their last night across their UK run of shows with a set that was bone shattering and as beautiful as it was brutal.
Review & Photography – Mark McGrogan : http://markmcgrogan.com