For the second time in three days, Belfast’s hardcore fans were treated to a visit by genuine legends of the scene, this time in the shape of NYC stalwarts Madball. And, for the second time in three days, the honour of setting the scene (sic) fell to Belfast’s very own HC heroes, the one and only By Any Means.
Before the gig, as we chatted in the bar, vocalist Chris ‘CC’ Curlett (pictured right) had asked if I was reviewing it: when I replied in the affirmative, the wee man immediately responded that “I better be at the top of my game then…”. He needn’t have worried, because – as ever – BAM more than rose to the occasion with a stage-destroying performance.. not that CC spent much time on the damn thing, as he characteristically spent most of the set prowling the floor like an unleashed panther.
One of the things that is immediately evident is how quickly new drummer Gavin Brown has fitted into the BAM family: his tightness and enthusiasm makes him the appropriate successor to Dave Byers (who suitably is standing stage front): indeed, ‘family’ is a word which, in so many ways, summarizes a BAM set… Songs like ‘Hardocre Pride’ swell the soul with just that, while the band anthem ‘Built On Respect’ – during which bassist Chris and guitarist Paul stand stoical and proud – rallies the many fans gathered at the barrier for the gang vocal to end all gang vocals.
Madball knew they had a job on their hands – they had been standing watching from the bar after all – but right from the off there is no doubt as to who owns this stage tonight. Their “1-2-Fuck-You” attitude is old school through and through, and the Noo Yawk quartet are definitely out to enjoy this, the peultimate night of the European leg of their tour is support of this year’s ‘Hardcore Lives’. Frontman Freddy Cricien in particularly fiery and intense form with his furious delivery, while Hoya Roc and Mitts alternatively stand as rock solid the Argonath and bouncing their not inconsdierable frames around the tiny stage wreathed in huge grins. You can almost smell the blood of the streets of the lower east side surgung through their collective frames, as they cavort on the carcasses of the innocent victims caught up their hardcore crossfire..
Playing with a youthful enthusiasm, these grizzled veterans of the scene exude both energy and respect for both their roots and where they have come to today. The only disappointment is the brevity of the set – a mere 45 minutes – but what they do deliver they do in honour of the healthy legion of fans who have come out this chilly Friday evening to sing and dance along with them.
Photographs by Darren McVeigh.