You know what they say, home is where the heart is; or in this case, home is where the music is. For me it has been a couple of years since I last entered the chess floorboard Hagues Bar situated in the centre of my home of Lisburn, Northern Ireland. Compared to the city of Belfast there aren’t that many events that go on in Lisburn but one thing for certain is that there is always a show run by local promoter Phil McCarroll of Sounds Of N.I. (SO:NI) and that’s the way it has been for almost a decade.
Co. Fermanagh musician (now living in Manchester) Matty James and his brother Philthy (on acoustic guitar & mandolin) kicked off tonight’s rather cold proceedings. Even with the attendance and the room temperature quite low at this point, it didn’t stop Matty and his brother as they pounded their way through a set filled with entertaining, sea shanty style songs from Matty’s collection of music, including his latest E.P. “Sticks & Stones.”
As the crowd began to grow and the room started to warm up, up next were North Down quartet Thieves Of Ennui, who made their Hagues Bar debut. This band really took me by surprise by providing a tight performance all around, from the gritty vocals of Aaron Reeve to the sweet guitar solos of Neil Poole. An influential mixture of Pearl Jam & Nirvana was present throughout their set, with tracks such as their debut single “Let It Burn” and “Feel.”
Now it’s not a Lisburn show without including some of our unsung heroes (or anti-heroes) and who better to play than the rascals known as St. Hellfire. Unfortunately bassist Decky had to pull out of the show as he wasn’t able to perform so the spot was filled by Mr. Davey Hannah from Buck Eejit who, in Davey’s own words, “got asked to do the gig 4 hours beforehand.” Even though they were a member down it didn’t stop Mark Fanjo and his band of merry men from ploughing on, with Davey asking before each song “what does this one go like?” Even a special guest appearance from Mr. Phil McCarroll himself for a rendition of U.F.O.’s “Shoot, Shoot” was like the toy in your cereal, a nice surprise to the set.
Now, for those of you who are reading this and are in a band, how many of you can say that you headlined a show on your first gig? Not many? Well that’s what final act Valorent did as they brought the night to a close. Similar to St. Hellfire, Valorent were down a bassist but rather than finding a step-in they just continued on with the show. While the cards were stacked against them, no bassist, not too many songs and nervous, this did not break their confidence as they thundered through with their Bullet For My Valentine/Avenged Sevenfold styled performance, from superb guitar duels from guitarists Jason Nurse & Ryan O’Malley to a confident vocal performance from Aaron Cathcart, which not only pleased the local rockers but also impressed this writer. Watch out for these guys as they will be moving more into the scene as time moves on!
If you would like to check out more shows, including the month Hagues Bar shows, visit the SO:NI Radio Show Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/soundsofni/?fref=ts.
Photographs by Marc Leach.
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