Halloween. One of the most important nights of the year… the one when the veil between the worlds comes down… or when spidey dickheads get to cross-dress without fear of ridicule from their equally spidey dickhead mates and make even bigger drunken pricks of themselves than usual… or, in the case of Belfast’s metallians, the night when one of the biggest double bills in recent memory rolled into town and laid waste to the city’s most iconic music venue!
It had taken LA doom pioneers Saint Vitus all of their 35 years to make it as far as a Belfast stage, and we knew it was going to be a special night, especially with the band performing their seminal ‘Born Too Late’ in its entirety. And we’re not disappointed as what takes place over the next 70 minutes can only be described as sublime.
The band’s dark and demonic vibrations, underpinned by the huge, bulldozing bass sound of Mark Adams and characterized by Dave Chandler’s fuzzed-out, down-tuned, psyched-out walls of vibrato-induced noise and acid-trip solos, are a flawless celebration of this iconic band’s heritage. Wino is typically wild-eyed, constantly urging the fans to get high and drunk – even going so far as to pass a bottle of JD around among them (and looking rather surprised when it comes back drained – hey, this is Belfast, man: we don’t stand on ceremony and if you offer us a free drink we’re gonna fuckin’ well drink it!): in fact, they take the invitation one step further, by handing out bottles of lager at the merch stand!
The heaviness of Henry Vasquez’s drumming leads to continual technical problems with his kit – so much so that his tech has to take up permanent station behind the backline – while, despite its intensity, the relaxed nature of the set is demonstrated when Chandler ends up sitting on the edge of the during closer ‘Born Too Late’. A vintage set from a band a vintage band who still leave a sweet taste on the palate.
Setlist: Living Backwards / I Bleed Black / War Is Our Destiny / Blessed Night / Let Them Fall / White Stallions / The Troll / The War Starter / The Lost Feeling / H.A.A.G. / Dying Inside / Clear Windowpane / Born Too Late
Belfast is virtually a second home for Orange Goblin – as Ben Ward acknowledges early on in the set – and the band know that they among their extended family as the towering frontman gulders “It’s Halloween, we’re Orange Goblin – Let’s Go Crazy!”… and you really cannot put it any better than that.
Whatever the unfathomable magic that has been worked on the Limelight’s bass bins tonight is unclear, but they induce a minor earthquake as Ward constantly urges his brothers and sisters congregated in front of the stage to ever higher levels of insanity – even climbing atop the security barriers (which makes his huge frame even more imposing). After a delve right back into the archives with ‘Saruman’s Wish’, OG plunge into a heavy plug for new album ‘Back To The Abyss’ with the titanic (what more apt adjective in the circumstances?) ‘Sabbath Hex’ and the pummelling ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ mere appetisers for a rendition of ‘Inhto The Arms Of Morpheus’ that is as statuesque as the frontman and a fast and furious ‘The Devil’s Whip’.
The original pit starts to fade about two-thirds of the way through the set, but is injected with new blood as ‘They Came Back’ rumbles and winds its way out of the rejuvenated sound system, and the band dive heads first towards their no-holds-barred finale.
Fuck yer cross-dressing spidey dickmunchers! You want to celebrate Halloween properly? Well, Belfast’s metallians – or should that be metal’s Belfastards – did just that with a legendary performance from a legendary band and another tight and professional one from one of the best British acts around at the moment… and, if you weren’t there, then tough fuckin’ shit!
Setlist: Scorpianica / Acid Trial / Saruman’s Wish / Sabbath Hex / Heavy Lies The Crown / Blue Snow / Cities Of Frost / Into The Arms Of Morpheus / The Devil’s Whip / The Fog / They Came Back (Harvest Of Skulls) / Quincy The Pigboy / Red Tide Rising
Photographs by Paul Verner © PlanetMosh 2014