Bob Vylan // Meryl Streek // ‘VIVA LA VYLAN’ Tour 2023 // Live Review // The Limelight // Belfast
Tonight is my third attempt at catching the infamous Bob Vylan live, the first date in Belfast that I knew of I was judging at Battle of the Bands competition, Bloodstocks M2TM here In Belfast, the second time they played one of my fav local venues, Belfast’s Empire Music Hall and I was away on holiday in the states but tonight, I’m here, they’re here, so lets fucking do this!
So to lay the foundation for the evening ahead, it’s a school night and an early start for the gig itself and the traffic as I come into Belfast and when I land down I nab a parking space right outside the venue #sweet the gig going gods are indeed looking down on me tonight. Photo pass collected and as I first enter the venue it’s quiet inside, but with the early start and people no doubt shuffling, getting their asses outta work, home and back into town you have to expect a few late, fashionable people.
7:30 comes around and Irish trailblazer Meryl Streek takes to the stage, a microphone stand stage right with a torch/strobe light as the only fecking light on the artist who is pacing up and down the stage like a caged animal and I am thinking, “Why do I do this to myself?” The venue lights behind him pulsated from complete darkness to some light and then nothing, Jesus wept, as a tog what am I supposed to do with this? As Meryl screams into the mic and then it all kicks off. Now Meryl is an artist that I have seen in posters around venues in Belfast but I have not yet experienced in the flesh, as I am standing here trying to figure out exactly what I am absorbing, it takes a little time to get to the pace, the visceral nature of his performance and trying to figure out why this dude seems so angry!
His debut album 796 was released on Venn Records the independent label owned and managed by Gallows guitarist Laurent ‘Lags’ Barnard, Louder says about theb album “ the album is a searing, apoplectic state-of-the-Irish-nation-address calling out corrupt politicians, rapacious landlords, Catholic church child abuse atrocities, institutional whitewashing and the brutal daily indignities faced by marginalised communities in the wake of the death of the ‘Celtic Tiger’, offering an unflinching and fiercely articulate dissection of the human cost of spiralling problems with suicide, homelessness, mental health, organised crime and alcohol abuse in modern Ireland.
Mixing electronic beats, TV news samples, punk rock guitar and spoken word vocals, it’s a raw, visceral and heart-wrenching debut, an often uncomfortable but utterly compelling listen, with vocals recorded “pretty much in one take” according to the 33-year-old Dubliner who’s the face, voice, heart, soul and conscience of Meryl Streek. The interesting thing I have to say was a noticeable following of people from down south, I could hear the accents in the crowd which means that MS has a magnetic pull that has brought people north to catch him live and that is no mean feat. His thick Dublin accent at times hard to follow but you know the harsh cutting vocals and even more cutting truths behind the lyrics are written all over the angst on his face.
A blistering set, rage-filled and passionate has MS on the floor, in the faces of the Belfast audience driving home the hard topics, the hard truths and important lessons to be learnt, a powerful set almost leaves the audience like they’ve just been through a hit and run, it kind of feels like that, shock and awe. I feel like I need a shower after that.
A short breather to take stock as the stage gets readied for Bob Vylan, a little later than advertised the lights drop and one of the most intriguing artists I’ve seen live in a while takes to the stage. So what is a Bob Vylan?
In the heart of London’s vibrant music scene, one band has been making waves since their formation in 2017, leaving audiences stunned and energized with their electrifying performances. Bob Vylan, a British grime rock band, has emerged as a live entity that embodies raw power, and energy, Their live shows are an immersive experience, a testament to the band’s commitment to pushing boundaries, breaking down barriers, and making a lasting impact in the world of music.
Bob Vylan, comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist Bobby Vylan and drummer Bobbie Vylan, have developed a unique sound that seamlessly fuses grime and punk rock. This fusion has created a sonic landscape that captures the intensity and urgency of both genres, allowing their live performances to transcend traditional boundaries and captivate audiences with their magnetic live delivery.
One of the defining characteristics of a Bob Vylan live show is the sheer energy that radiates from the stage. From the moment they step into the spotlight, the band exudes an electrifying presence that sends shockwaves through the crowd. Bob’s ability to connect with the crowd is evident from the off, his yoga-esque-miagi-esque stretches exercise seems like a cathartic and almost meditation-like process he goes through before exploding on stage. As I already said this is my first in-your-face experience of BV and witnessing it up close and personal it is quite something. This is why I love the live music scene, the gems that are out there in plain sight just waiting for someone to pick up on them, BV are one such band who are absolute masters of their art, but one of the best-kept secrets of the British music scene. Unless you firmly have your finger on the pulse you could be seriously missing out on this sonic crime-fighting duo.
The band’s energy is contagious, and it doesn’t take long for the audience to become fully immersed in the sonic maelstrom. Bob Vylan’s music is an explosive experience live, the guys start and stop on a dime, delivering a break-neck pace matched with solid musical intensity, spit-fire lyrics and intense drum patterns fused together along with backing tracks that complete this audible barrage on the senses that you really have no time to fully take it all in.
Bob’s interactions with the audience is one of the most charming aspects of the show, He’s not just a frontman but a conduit for the emotions and frustrations that many people feel but may struggle to express. Right now, I feel that this world is so fucked up, and Bob touches on the reality of what we are all seeing unfold before our eyes with the Israeli-Palestine conflict and being in Belfast, well to say the least it was understood and appreciated. But clearly, some guys are comfortable speaking the truth, speaking their truth, while others may falter. So I applaud that courage and conviction, it is why their music resonates so much with their audiences, people need artists such as BV, and the packed-out Limelight II this evening is absolutely heaving to the hefty rhythms being tossed out from the stage.
The eclectic vibes coming from the PA batter and bruise everyone in the room, but the smiles are far and wise as the guys just slay track after track, Bob making sure everyone in the room is with him along for the ride, that constant connection with the audience is something that is lost on a lot of artists these days, but not here, not with BV. They live off the energy from the crowd, consume it and toss it back out ten-fold, I watched ‘Bob’ the TM and MC for the night (Introducing the band as they hit the stage) put out multiple and mean multiple bottles of water across the stage, 3 at a time and I can see why, Bob is like a man on fire, the guy can bust some serious moves, my dad at a wedding has nothing on him, the energy on stage is behemoth and infectious, there is a magnetism about watching him on that stage that is just breathtaking, matched only by Bobbie’s majestic drum work as the two fuse like an atom-bomb. These guys need hydrated, I didn’t quite know what to expect this evening but it was an absolute revelation! It has to be done, step outside of your comfort zone once in a while and embrace the chaos! 99% of my time I am at your cookie-cutter rock and metal shows, so this was something different, yes their backing track live felt girthier with thick distorted guitars backing the drums and vocals, but their world music approach, the fusion of grime and rock and whatever else works is a majestic triumph!
You just have to experience these guys for yourself and the good news is tonight is only the start of the tour, so get those tickets in your hand and sleep outside the venues now! You’re going to want to be front row for this show!
Following on from the release of last years 100% independent, Top 20 charting, Kerrang! Magazine and MOBO Award-winning album ‘Bob Vylan Presents: The Price Of Life’, London two-piece BOB VYLAN can today announce a full UK headline tour for 2023. The shows will see them take in 13 cities across the UK and Ireland with friends Kid Bookie and Panic Shack.
“We’ve been locked away making new music and now it’s time to get back on stage where we belong in front of the people that we love.” says Bobby Vylan. “We’re excited to share new music with people live before anybody else gets to hear it and we’re joined by two incredible bands that are going to make this a tour to remember.”
BOB VYLAN- VIVA LA VYLAN TOUR 2023
Plus Special guests Kid Bookie + Panic Shack + Meryl Streek (Ireland only)
8th November 2023 – Limelight 2, Belfast
9th November 2023 – Whelan’s, Dublin
12th November 2023 – Junction 1, Cambridge
13th November 2023 – Stylus, Leeds
14th November 2023 – Garage, Glasgow
16th November 2023 – Boiler Shop, Newcastle
17th November 2023 – O2 Ritz, Manchester
18th November 2023 – O2 Institute, Birmingham
20th November 2023 – Rock City, Newcastle
21st November 2023 – SWX, Bristol
22nd November 2023 – Engine Rooms, Southampton
24th November 2023 – Chalk, Brighton
25th November 2023 – O2 Forum Kentish Town, London