Sometimes it is those things that are relatively unplanned – such as that impromptu meet up after work for “a couple of pints” – which turn out to be the most enjoyable. And so it proved with this evening, which originally was scheduled to headlined by a “tribute” band, only for the combo concerned to pull out a few days notice and leave the intended support act to pick up the baton and put their own bill together… But, it says much for the devotion and enthusiasm of Maverick that they rose to the challenge with aplomb and pulled together what is known in this part of the planet we call Mosh as a cracker of a line-up.
Openers Villanova Junction (https://www.facebook.com/VNJunction) immediately proved to be enthusiastic proponents of the old adage about the show going on, as, having lost their drummer just a few days earlier, they turned their set into the sort of sweaty jam session that shows the true merit of a band of this ilk. Despite their comparative youth, VN are fast establishing themselves as one of the most respected outfits on the Norn Iron blues/rock scene, with frontman Joel Harris a particularly precocious talent, his style lying somewhere between a young Clapton, Hendrix and Rory Gallagher, performed with languidity and explosiveness in equal measures. He still has a long way to go, but give this kid a few years and, well, you never know… Belfast might just have found a successor to the late, great Gary Moore.
Still on a high after their recent support slot with Mordred, Conjuring Fate (https://www.facebook.com/ConjuringFate) are one of PM’s favourite bands from this part of the world, and our joy was unrestrained when we learned, earlier this year, that they had decided to come out of a self-enforced hiatus: since then, they have very much proven themselves to be a band rejuvenated, with their fiery live shows and their love of doing just that. Tonight, they proved that they are just getting tighter and tighter with the three new recruits – guitarist Karl Gibson, bassist Steve Legear and (especially) drummer Bogdan Walczak – really coming into their own around the cornerstones of lead guitarist Phil Horner and vocalist Tommy Daly. The latter, now cleaner and leaner, loves playing live so much that you couldn’t wipe the grin off his face with a shammy as he leads the band through their set with his typical cheeky charisma. Highlights are the humungous opener ‘House On Haunted Hill’ and the titanic closer ‘Backwoods Witch’, while their rendition of ‘I Want Out’ is both faithful and fun.
As mentioned at the top of this review, Maverick were stepping up to the headline slot with just a few days’ notice – but they are another band who just love playing in front of people… and tonight they do so with passion, verve and vigour in equal doses. They deliver a mixture of old songs, new tracks from their forthcoming debut album (see details below) and a few classic covers – including a stonking version of ‘Youth Gone Wild’ which just makes you want to track down a certain Sebastard Bleugh, tape his head to the speaker bin and scream “this is how it’s supposed to sung, you pussy!”. There’s also a very pleasant surprise (especially for one audience member) when CF’s Phil and Tommy take to the stage again for a riotous rendition of ‘Wasted Years’, with the two vocalists working in near-psychic harmony!
What Maverick do is not exactly new, but, unlike a lot of acts who take their influence very much from the Eighties, they do not merely regurgitate tired old riffs: you can spot little flashes in there, but the lads expend a lot of energy infecting their material with their own stamp, and the result is a evening which gets even the stiffest of necks moving to and fro and the most unmelodious of voices screaming themselves hoarse, as the infectious riffs and choruses of the likes of ‘Paint By Numbers’, ‘Top Heavy’ and ‘Cat Got Your Tongue’ swirl around the inside of your brain for days afterwards…
Conjuring Fate support DragonForce on the following dates:
Saturday September 20 – Belfast, Limelight 2
Sunday September 21 – Dublin Whelan’s
Maverick co-headline the following PlanetMosh-backed dates with Black Sheriff:
Thursday November 6 – Belfast, Voodoo (with Altus and Dead Addiction)
Friday November 7 – Newry, Amplified (with Altus + TBC)
Saturday November 8 – Londonderry, Mason’s (with Altus and Donum Dei).
They then support Y&T at the Limelight in Belfast on Wednesday November 12. Their debut album, ‘Quid Pro Quo’, is scheduled for release on Massacre Records on November 28.
Find out more about Maverick, and keep up to date with developments, at https://www.facebook.com/MaverickBelfastuk