It’s two weeks before Christmas, and the dreaded party season is in full swing. Bars in the centre of Belfast – in common with those in most towns and cities – are filled with what in these parts refer, rather disdainfully, to as “oncers”: those people who only get out to drink once a year, and for which they don tacky jumpers, invade our favourite local and party like there’s no tomorrow, with total disregard for those of us who maintain said pub the other 360-odd days of the year… so, there is nothing else for Team PM to do but escape this particular type of annual mayhem for a party of a somewhat different mien – the first of two festive celebrations at the best little rock club on this otherwise insignificant little island, nestled up there in the hills far from the hustle and bustle of the big city!
And what better way to get the party started than with the bunch of madheads by the name of NASA Assassin, who always guarantee a giving any venue (and crowd) a jolly good seeing to – and this evening is no exception. With the quintet having only just returned to live action after an extended hiatus, they are obviously eager and hungry as they rip into their peculiar brand of psycho-trash-punk with its weird tranced-out psychedelic edge combined with moments of rapcore, the latter delivered with an intense charisma by The Watcher, while the band are tight and incisive behind him.
Combining moments of Hawkwind with The Ramones – or the other way around – this is the soundtrack you want on your iPod as your sucked into a black hole, and the perfect antithesis to the shallow fuckwittery which this so-called festive season is producing in much lesser venues up and down this particular corner of the planet we call Mosh.
Set list: Five Way Split / NASA City Rockers / White Panacea / Razor / Mystified / The Seal / NASA Assassin / Monterey [Police Lethal] / Sexy Nervous Breakdown / One Man Crime Wave / Not Givin’ Up Livin’ (To Live)
As the crowd moves forward from the bar to fill the front half of this tiny venue, there is no better way for Trucker Diablo to kick off their set than to invite everyone present to ‘Party Like They Started The End Of The World’… and, believe me, we don’t need to be told twice. Again, it’s been a while – although, admittedly, not as long as their support act – since the Big Truck rolled on to a stage, and initially they do seem a little ring rusty. But, they quickly get into their groove and live up to their opening anthem – and both they and the crowd are loving every second of it!
The band characteristically romp their way through their three album back catalogue, combining little-played gems, such as ‘Black And Blue’, with crowd favourites such as the unique hand jive of ‘Juggernaut’ and ‘Drive’, which presses more pedal to the metal than Lewis Hamilton on a world championship-winning lap, and is coupled with a glorious solo that would match the subsequent victory celebrations. It being Christmas, they also throw in a few surprises, such as melding ‘Seek And Destroy’ seamlessly into the mid-section of ‘Drink Beer, Destroy’ and the unveiling of a new song, ‘Over The Wall’ (possibly inspired by the filming of ‘Game Of Thrones’ right here in Norn Iron?), which starts off faster than anything they’ve ever done before and develops into an extremely heavily layered slice of classic hard rock coupled with Trucker’s typically rebellious attitude. If they’re looking for a theme tune for the aforementioned series, then HBO have found it right here!
But, there’s an ever bigger surprise to come. Tom takes to the stage alone to kick off the encore with an acoustic rendition of ‘Where Angels Fly’, the hugely emotive ballad about pain and loss from their most recent ‘Rise Above The Noise’ opus; replacing Keith Weir’s haunting piano with a roughly tuned guitar, the result is no less poignant and evokes tears from more than a few audience members. But, the party atmosphere soon returns, with Simon taking over lead vocals for the Lizzy-inspired jaunt that is ‘Evil Marie’ before the snow machines are released for the rousing finale invitation to ‘Let’s Rock This Christmas’… and, again, we don’t need the request repeated.
You know something… you can send your Christmas jumper to the dump, and choke on your mulled wine-induced vomit… this is how you have a party… well, until The Answer roll into this selfsame village this coming weekend!
Party Like They Started The End Of The World / Fight Life / Black And Blue / Juggernaut / Drive / Red Light On / Voodoo / Somebody Save Me / Murder Ballad / Drive Beer, Destroy / We Stand Strongt / The Rebel / Over The Wall / Take Me To The River / Sun Deprives The Day
Encore: Where Angels Fly / Girl In A Photograph / Evil Marie / Let’s Rock This Christmas
Trucker Diablo return to the road next year, when they play the following dates, with Off Yer Rocka labelmates Screaming Eagles and Massive Wagons:
Monday 14 April – Newcastle, O2 Academy
Tuesday 15 April – Sheffield, O2 Academy
Wednesday 16 April – Glasgow, O2 ABC
Photographs by The Dark Queen.
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