Summer time. To some it’s about sun and holidays, to others it’s heading to festivals, enjoying music and getting muddy. Every year thousands gather to a field in Walton-on-Trent, England for the annual Bloodstock festival. This year the festival attracted acts like Gojira, Slayer and Twisted Sister (for their final U.K. performance). It was certainly a festival for the ages, but what about those who couldn’t make it? Well, thankfully Bloodstock headliners Mastodon thought ahead and made their way across the water to Northern Ireland for an intimate club performance.
It’s not too often there are two support bands for such a big event but Irish lads Harvester proved worthy of opening the nights proceedings. While the odds were against them from still sound checking when the doors opened and poor vocals from Gavin Grealy; the chunky riffs and guitar duels from Grealy and Bryan Higgins helped make for an enjoyable set.
Having also come from Bloodstock, the main support band The Raven Age were confident in making their Belfast debut. I will admit, the band actually took me by surprise as their sound just didn’t match that of the headline. Lead vocalist Michael Burrough communicated well with the crowd, throwing horns to numerous people at the barrier as the rest of the band (featuring Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris’ offspring, George Harris on guitar) thundered their way through a set full of energy.
It’s been two years since our headliners graced the Limelight 1 stage and a year since they took the iconic Ulster Hall stage but Mastodon seemed happy to be back. As stated at the start of this review, the Grammy award winning American four piece had just performed a headline set at the Bloodstock festival the day before, a nice little practise before the Irish crowd huh? Before the show I had heard about their Bloodstock performance so I went in with an open mind, hoping they were going to bring the thunder to Belfast. Musically, they did just that but personally I was pretty bored during their set and that was all down to their lack of crowd communication (which actually didn’t start until nearly the end of their set) and just looking disinterested on stage, even with bassist/lead vocalist Troy Sanders continuing his tradition of wearing a Stiff Little Fingers shirt when they’re in Ireland (North and South).
Lead guitarist Brent Hinds was the only exception who was bursting with energy and banter throughout the night, even if his vocal mix was poor. Despite all this, the band still left a mark in a location they come to regularly, with the crowd never ceasing their moshing, crowd surfing and singing along to the songs from the band’s various album collection. Especially as they rounded their set off with their own rendition of the Thin Lizzy classic “Emerald,” which is performed only for the Irish crowd.
Tread Lightly / Feast Your Eyes / Oblivion / The Motherload / Chimes At Midnight / High Road / Motherpuncher / Aqua Dementia / The Czar / Bladecatcher / Black Tongue / The Wolf Is Loose / Divinations / Ember City / Colony Of Birchmen / Blood And Thunder / Emerald (Thin Lizzy cover)