Belsonic 2010 plays host to a plethora of bands over a two week stint of gigs. The festival moves towards its conclusion on Sunday night but on Saturday last (08/28//10) the square at Customs House was the venue for alternative rockers Biffy Clyro, Lost Prophets, Fight With Wire and Twin Atlantic – who I am here to see.
It’s a great venue, a nicely enclosed spot in the centre of Belfast with the impressive Custom House running along the right side and an apartment block opposite. This perfectly formed pocket of space is an ideal venue for a gig and everything was shaping up nicely apart from the weather, which, in typical Irish form, looked like it could break any second. Queuing up and entering the venue was a breeze and once past the ample service area one could see there was an acceptable crowd assembling early on!
Glaswegians Twin Atlantic (read our interview) kick off proceedings with ‘Human After All’ and run it straight into‘Light Speed’ at which point front man Sam McTrusty engages with the audience for the first time. He seems comfortable on stage and genuinely interested in putting on a show. They move into ‘You’re Turning into John Wayne’ followed by ‘Caribbean War Syndrome’ both pounded out by an energetic band aiming to impress. True to their roots a strong Scottish accent was clearly audible in the singing and I was momentarily reminded of Irvine Welshs’ style of writing where you actually end up thinking in the accent! I noted that the bands layout was unusual in the fact that there was no one stood centre stage. Instead Sam and Barry McKenna took up positions on the far left and far right with the rhythm section of Ross McNae and Craig Kneale bringing up the rear. Two front men it would seem, this could be interesting!
The jackhammer beat of the kick drum and tight punchy bass playing on ‘What Is Light and Where Is Laughter’ forms a formidable rhythm section as the rain starts in earnest. Unperturbed, however, Sam enlists the crowd to add their claps in time with little or no persuasion. He and Barry add the mid grunt and top end sparkle respectively with their fenders while the former asks “is this what you came for?” I think it might well be and you may very well “be their lantern”.
For the penultimate song Sam gave the audience a list of tunes and let the fans’ cheers make the decision – ‘Guidance From Colour’ won by a mile……
For this song Barry swaps his Strat in favour of an electric cello to set the emotive scene before the guitar is called back into action for the clamorous crescendo which sees the vocalist scale a stack of speakers without missing a note. This is foot stomping head nodding goodness that the crowd love, good choice! The song returns to a slower passage padded out by the cello again to finish, impressive stuff….
A slightly over enthusiastic smoke machine fills the stage for the last song…
The band tear through it with the ridiculously hooky ‘Audience and Audio’
Again the rhythm section of Ross’ furiously flailing drums and Craig’s busy baseline impresses, Sam’s silver Telecaster chugs along with Barry’s jangling lead fills and has the crowd bopping again… “And is there anybody out there?” Well Sam, there certainly are!
The performance is dynamic with plenty of gentle passages punctuated by wall of noise choruses – a good live show. The band pumped their songs out with gusto and serious balls, the lads love the stage / limelight and the crowd reacted well to their notable presence. Love or hate the music you simply can’t take away from the raw energy they put into their playing. They were really thrashing it out and hungry for recognition. They are fun to watch especially the rock god posturing of lead guitarist, Barry McKenna, who is a very animated character who makes for great camera fodder!
It is not the most difficult or technical musicianship I have ever witnessed but they are fun, the songs are really catchy, and those huge chorus swells!
If personality is what makes a band they could probably top the charts – they ooze confidence. I get the feeling that they are a group of genuine lads and it’s pretty obvious that they love playing. This is after all the first act of the evening, these guys got a lot into a warm up gig and the singer thanked the crowd for making the effort to come early to see them!
It’s not easy to create such an atmosphere and get a rapport going with the audience at an out door gig during the day, but these guys managed it, with aplomb, in a short space of time!
I left the gig with ‘Light Speed’ and ‘Audience and Audio’ buzzing around my head convinced that if this gig was anything to go by they will be well rewarded for their devotion.
Words and Photos: Barry ThorntonJust Published: