It hardly seems like less than six months ago that the Gasoline Outlaws came roaring out of nowhere and propelled themselves on to the Northern Ireland rock scene with furious intent. A series of increasingly impressive live shows later, the quartet have now released their debut album, the massive sounding ‘No Rules No Laws No Regrets’: and where better place to officially unleash this beast of an opus than the spiritual home of Northern Irish rawk ‘n’f’n roll than the legendary Diamond Rock Club – the same venue in which they made their live debut back at the turn of the year!
It may be bright and balmy outside, but the atmosphere inside is dark and stormy, as openers Conjuring Fate take us on a trip to the ‘House On Haunted Hill’ and enjoy its haunting groove. ‘Apocalypse’ is played at breakneck speed – in fact, the whole set seems to be at an accelerated pace – with a seering solo from Phil Horner and a brutal beatdown from Boggy. ‘Trust No One, combines spitting adrenaline with a catchy clap-along chorus, while the pace eases off for the epic and mournful melodious yet energetic ‘Chasing Shadows’, which soars over the nearby mountains like the eagle of its lyric. As usual, there is no keeping Horner on the stage, and he delivers the solo to ‘Mirror Mirror’ while running up and down the room – and having to rejoin his bandmates via the stageside dressing room! The lads finish by unveiling a new song, ‘Darkest Days’, which possesses a vitriolic hoariness on its first outing.
House On Haunted Hill / Apocalypse / Trust No One / Chasing Shadows / Land Of The Damned / Mirror Mirror / Darkest Days
Unlike many bands on such occasions, Gasoline Outlaws, while profiling the entirety of the new album, choose not to do so in the order they appear on the album, kicking their set off with the spiteful ‘Lie’. As they prove they are ‘Ready To Fly’ by encouraging everyone to ‘Come On’, the songs grunt and grind with a dark, dense passion which has the spirit of classic r’n’r coursing through their veins. Adam Parkin’s guitar sound is dirtier and crunchier than on the album, making tunes heavier and more suited to the live environment. Chris Fitzsimons’ finger-picked bass rumbles and roars in equal measure, entwining around Adam Callaghan’s taut, precise drum patterns, while up front ‘Wee’ Matt Fitzsimons delivers the sort of vocal performance which sends shivers down the spines of grown women (and a fair few blokes as well), as he delivers another towering performance which belies his diminutive stature (but, then, great things come in small packages, as herself keeps reminding me!).
The acoustic-led ‘Stand As One’ is both acidic and defiant, while ‘Someday’ mellows proceedings out with its mournful yet elegiac moodiness. It’s very much a family occasion for the Fitzsimons brothers, and Matt acknowledges this when he cheekily thanks their mum as dad for “putting up with all those years of us banging around in the garage, rockin’ n rollin’…”. Later, as the main set approaches its close, they also manage to evoke applause, and an appreciative round of applause, for the band’s honorary fifth member, uber-producer Frankie ‘Einstein’ McClay.
Of course, when you only have one album, which contains all your original material, a headliner set can present problems in terms of possible brevity: the band address this issue with an encore of covers which have influenced them both individually and collectively, including a riotous (and unhrehearsed) version of The Almighty’s ‘Free N Easy’ and a rocked up version of one of the stables of Matt’s solo acoustic sets, Neil Young’s timeless ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’.
Another great gig from one of the bands who are helping to shape Northern Ireland’s challenge for the title of the rock ‘n’ roll capital in these islands in 2015, and in one of the best little venues you are ever likely to set foot in, leaving nothing else to do but order another beer, soak up the atmosphere and head out into the dark night for the trip back to Belfast, content in the knowledge that – if the posters around the walls are anything to go by – it won’t be too long until Team PM is once again leaving the ‘big smoke’ behind to enjoy the delights of Ahoghill Rock City… now, where’s that spray can?
Lie / Ready To Fly / Come On / Rising Up / Stand As One / Someday / Heart & Soul / The Shrouded Wolves / Nothing On Me / Outlaws / Mississippi Queen (Mountain cover)
Let Me Out (Electric Mary cover) / Rebel Yell (Billy Idol cover / Free ‘N Easy (The Almighty cover) / Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young cover)
Photographs by The Dark Queen / (c) PlanetMosh 2015
Gasoline Outlaws and Conjuring Fate will both be taking part in the HRH Highway To Hell competition, being held at the O2 Academy in Sheffield on September 5 and 6.
Conjuring Fate support Diamond Head and Rabid Bitch Of The North at Limelight 2 this coming Saturday (June 27).