Regular readers will be cognizant of Team PM’s affection for the DRC – an intimate little club above a tiny country bar deep in the heart of Northern Ireland’s ‘Bible Belt’ which has attracted some pretty big names and, in the process, provided us with some of our favourite (and, on occasion, more adventuresome) evenings of the past few years. On this occasion, the reason for venturing up the motorway from the big smoke and deep into the hills of County Antrim on a chilly Sunday evening is to discover whether or not ‘Good Times Are Hard To Find’, as Chip Z’Nuff returns to this part of the world, this time with the current incarnation of the band whose name he himself adopted in tow.
Tasked with warming up the crowd – and boy did we need it, with the mid-May temperatures feeling positively Antarctic outside – are Scots reprobate siblings Estrella. And they certainly do just that, as they get things off to a determined, fiesty and high energy start. Vocalist Paul Gunn (pictured right) has bucket loads of charisma and enjoys a superb rapport with the small crowd, treating everyone – and especially the ladies – as a close friend.
Their classic AOR/sleaze vibe has a huge Eighties/Nineties throwback feel to it, especially in their use of three part vocal harmonies, but it is done extremely well and delivered with a grungy modern sensibility. New single ‘We Will Go On’ is both anthemic and rhythmic, while closer ‘Here I Am’ brings their energetic and hugely enjoyable set to a suitably traditional high voltage jump-around-and-sing-yourself-hoarse cheesy finale. This was PM’s Belfast team’s first encounter with Estrella (well, outside of the confines of the Highway To Hell battle of the bands competition) – and, on the strength of this evening’s performance, it certainly won’t be our last.
Wearing a floppy, feathered fedora and his trademark Elton-esque pink-lensed sunglasses, Chip Z’Nuff (pictured left) looks every inch the veteran rock star, and he immediately develops an easy interaction with the (now slightly larger) audience gathered to worship in front of him as the band – completed by his now re-united long-term sidekick Johnny Monaco and most recent recruit Erik Donner – deliver a set which is a mix of classics, delivered with efficient aplomb, and lesser known mementos from the band’s three-decade long repertoire, exhumed and paid due honour. It’s a formulaic and unsurprising performance, drawing perhaps too much on the mid-paced aspects of the Enuff Z’Nuff songbook, but one which nevertheless gives the assembled die hard fans exactly what they want, with the likes of ‘Baby Loves You’ getting everyone singing and dancing like its the heyday of the MTV years all over again.
Kiss The Clown / One Step Closer To You / There Goes My Heart / In Crowd / The World Is A Gutter / For Now / Little Indian Angel / I’ve Fallen In Love Again / Day By Day / Good Times (Are Hard To Find) / Baby Loves You / Long Way To Go / Jet / Fly High Michelle / New Thing
Photographs by The Dark Queen (c) PlanetMosh 2015
Estrella play the Wildfire Festival on Sunday June 28.