Simon McBride Trio // Live Review // The Deers Head // Belfast

Simon McBride has been somewhat of an enigma since his arrival on the Irish music scene way back when, It is almost hard to pinpoint when he caught my eye, I believe as a young twenty-something I was in The Venue at a rock night and mid-set the music stopped and out walked this young kid, in his teens with a guitar and small portable PA and started to lash into Satriani & Vai Right there and then I knew there was a new sheriff in town, and it wasn’t me. 

I was lucky enough to be around the Belfast music scene and got to watch Simon grow up and take part in jam nights with the late great Rab McCullough a legend of the local blues scene, Simon would pop his head in on a Thursday night when Rob would open up the floor at his residency at The Empire Bar and it was one of the highlights of the evening for me watching his effortlessly lay down solos I could only dream of playing. 

This actually lead me to get a few lessons off Simon at his family home in Carrick and it was a further eye-opener to his amazing ability and surreal talent that was going to take him far and wide, at the time even at such a young age he was already endorsed by PRS and at that time Crate amplification and playing a Blue Voodoo 4×12 and a 2×12 Vintage 50 which I actually, in turn, bought one off Simon all those years ago, which totally pissed off my neighbours. But all the while from a distance I always kept track of what Simon was doing and championed him everywhere I could watch him twist and turn in his musical career as, like any great artist, he can put his hand to anything. 

But where he really has shined is as a solo artist, as a frontman of his own band with complete musical freedom to express himself as he wants. What better way than in a Trio? There’s really no place to hide and any shortcomings would be on display for all the world to see, but no fear here, you get your money’s worth every single time. The last time in Ernest I saw the trio play was at the Ards International Guitar Festival where Simon collected The Lifetime Achievement Award and he was the youngest ever recipient to do so, just a few days short of his 40th birthday. 

Two years on post-pandemic has he mellowed at all? Let’s find out. So tonight we are in one of Belfast’s newest venues, The Deers Head has been renovated and looks pretty sweet, it’s my first time here in years and there is a decent crowd in the room all be it hiding at the rear! As Simon and co kick in they pull the shy Belfast folk forward to get involved. One this is immediately obvious, as a trio these guys are fucking awesome! Stellar musicians absolutely nailing it live, three guys who look so comfortable on stage not just playing live but so effortlessly and majestically. McBride’s vocals have improved immensely over the years also as he has grown into a formidable frontman, we all have come to know the blistering guitar work but as a complete entity, the trio is one serious proposition. 

Playing tracks from the new album The Fighter coming May 2022 and a collection of songs from his earlier years as well as some of the covers released during the lockdown The Simon McBride Trio lay waste and rip their way through 90 minutes of sublime musicianship that simply takes the breath away. I always feel it’s such a shame that we often put artists from further afield on a pedestal when we have such an abundance of talent on our very shores, I am more than confident however when the trio land on the UK shores for the remainder of this tour they will be very well received.  

A stunning performance by three majestic musicians, a flawless nights entertainment that both inspires and breaks the heart of every guitar player in the room at the same time, but the music itself is not juts for the gear heads amongst us, Simon’s songwriting is in the vein of his roots, classic-rock and blues with a contemporary vibe that is so easy on the ear and even better in the flesh. Make sure you catch him on one of his date across the UK in the coming weeks, this is one band you’ll not regret catching live, in fact, it would be criminal to miss!


Photos: #flashartmark / @flashartmark for Rock ‘N’ Load 





We caught up with Simon a few weeks ago to chat about his journey thus far and the new album “The Fighter” 

“Don’t Dare”
“Show Me How to Love”
“The Fighter”
“High Stakes”
“Let Me Go”
“100 Days”
“King of The Hill”
“Just Takes Time”
“Back to You”
“The Stealer”




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