It may be mid-winter and, as the colloquialism goes, its Baltic outside, inside the Limelight 1 the temperature was going up very quickly from “keep yourself wrapped up, love” to “jaysus, its wile sweltering”.
With it being winter in Belfast and doors opened from five you would not have been blamed for wondering if people would be thin on the ground for a gig. But with a three-band line up of CKY, Backyard Babies and then the Wildhearts headlining, that was never really going to happen. By the time the two-piece band CKY took to the stage at just after 6pm, the place was healthily full.
CKY may normally be a four-piece tonight they were a two-piece, but the sound they made is more than equal to a five-piece. This was immediately evident as they slammed straight into “HiFi”, “Sporadic Movement” and “Attached”. These two lads were pounding out an energetic rock that shook your core from top to bottom. Many in the crowd sang along knowing quite a few of the CKY songs. On went Lead vocalist and guitarist Deron Miller and drummer Jess Margera producing a very tight thunderous cavern filling performance with “Replaceable”, “Flesh into Gear” and “Frenetic”.
Their driving rhythm, groovy riffage, and tribalesque drumming had many in the audience moving in time. “Head for a Breakdown”, “Rio”, “Escape from Hellview”, “Bernadette Nere” and “Bite It” finished off the set.
It is without any doubt that CKY performed their hearts out on a stage they filled with their sheer presence. Absolutely fantastic performance.
Next up came the Swedish rock and rollers, The Backyard Babies. And what a performance these lads gave! With a real grasp of reeling in and playing with the audience, they joked with the crowd, smiled and delivered pure old-style rock and roll in a 2020 package. They even joked about why did they decide to tour in January of all times of the year!
Landing in with “Good Morning Midnight”, “Th1rte3n”, and new single “Shovin’ Rocks” they very quickly established dominance of the place. They deliver an incredible package of hard rock, old-time rock and roll and all with rebellious punk energy. Dregen, the group’s Lead Guitarist, is the epitome of Keith Richards in looks and attitude.
“Nomadic”, “Heaven 2.9”, and “Highlights” kept the place pumping and jumping. This band can only be described as fun, punk, rock and full of attitude that will lift you up and kick your ass. And you’ll enjoy it too. A little downtempo with “Painkiller” before beginning to ramp it back up with “Roads”, “Yes to all No” and “Star War”. Every so often Nicke and Dregen would jump up onto low metal tables only to be lit up and obscured with smoke. It was a joy to behold and fitted perfectly right in with the performance. The Clash” and “Abandon” finished off their main set but they got a chance to come back and do a few encore songs including “Look At You”, “Dysfunctional Professional” “Minus Celsius”, “Brand New Hate” and “People like….” Pure and simple, Backyard Babies produced some of the finest rock and roll on the planet and gave a superb performance as they worked the stage like stadium standard professionals. Their fun energetic control of the stage reflected the hold they had over the crowd who were singing their hearts out and bouncing around the floor.
Finally, after 16 years from the last time, comes The Wildhearts. The crowd erupts as they take the stage and Ginger holds sway over a surging court. Blasting into “Everlone”, “Diagnosis” and “Vanilla Radio” the crowd simply goes insane. Ginger acknowledges the turn out in his warm and thick Newcastle accent “I’m feeling the love her folks, im feeling the love”.
The solid hard rock and good time headbanging rhythms just fed the energetically joyous response from the crowd. Hands waving in the air, moshing and singing as loud as they could along with the Wildhearts were the order of the evening. “Greetings from Shitsville”, “Let ‘em Go”, and “The Revolution Will Be Televised” just kept the night supercharged for everyone there, witnessing a high firing, on-point rock and roll band that encapsulated the high energy, hard-rocking attitude that rolled off the stage.
As the joyous and uncompromising moshing continued so did the uncompromising nature of the tunes coming from The Wildhearts. The two seemed to be feeding off each other more and more. Delivering “TV Tan”, “Top Of The World”, and “Dislocated” Ginger and his bandmates seemed as tight, together and full-on as a professional band could be.
With a cheeky grin and twinkle in his eye Ginger turned to the packed Limelight and joked that if anyone wants to buy them a bushmills or Paddy powers afterwards they can, not that they should, or need to, but they can.
Finishing off the night The Wildhearts slammed home “Sick Of Drugs”, “My Kinda Movie”, “I Wanna Go Where People Go”. As usual, the crowd refused to move anywhere with the odd loud shouting to call The Wildhearts back on. And they were duly rewarded with the likes of “My Baby Is A Headfuck” and “Love You Til I Don’t” as the crowd was determined to use the last of their energy as they rocked their hearts out along with the band.
To put it simply, normally you would expect the headliners to tear the place up but this night it was a triumvirate of incredible rock that tore up the place from the very first song of the night to the very last. For most people there, it was a half a year’s worth of hard work out in one single night. Smiles were as broad as Cheshire cats as they filed out of the Limelight.
This was definitely a night not to be missed, all the bands delivered more than they needed to and they all performed beyond the call of duty. You need to see even any one of these bands, but if you get the chance to see what was witnessed in the Limelight, you just do it!
Review by Ivor Whitten
Photography By Marc Leach