A Night With Stephen McCorry – Sunday 6th January 2019
Stephen McCorry, Arsenic & Lace, John Andrews
The local music enthusiasts in Voodoo kick off 2019 in the proper fashion, with an evening dedicated to some of the best local blues and rock outfits around. Specialists in grit and grind, I was thrown by the familial feeling present on the night. As I sat in Voodoo’s raised seating area supping my beverage, band members and fans mingled from group to group, grabbing shoulders, initiating embraces and grasping palms. The vibe was good, and the music followed suit.
Resident firebrand John Andrews is the first to take the stage, with a fully equipped band in tow. Once a lone performer, having backing musicians on board allows Andrews to fully commit his energies to frontman duties, which he seems to be a natural at. It’s not long before a thin film of sweat covers the East Belfast bluesman, his trademark blazing intensity leading his musical charge. Andrews set was, as always, an assault on the senses highlighted by rough riffs, gritty vocals, country/rap remixes and an enthralling atmosphere. An addictive character with a unique and genuine flair, Andrews is not to be missed.
Second on stage is country and blues-rock outfit Arsenic & Lace, who were attention-grabbing enough without the addition of a cello and ukulele on stage (I’d wager it was the first time a ukulele has made its way through Voodoo’s walls unscathed). Still, after the flame of Andrews, the more mellowed and intriguing set of A&L was of equal interest. Their raw, fresh sound helped them stand out, with the high point being original number ‘Falling Down.’ The sharp, succinct bites of the guitar and the kick of the percussion added a real, rustic punch to their sound, something seemingly appreciated by the crowd given the applause that greeted each song. An uncommon set of faces with a set that sells them better than any review could, make sure their next show is marked on your calendar.
The headlining act comes from the organiser himself, Stephen McCorry, who brought a troubadour swagger with his bluesy groove. Playing the part of the crooning frontman, McCorry snarling guitar was a suitable accompaniment for his authentic, crisp wail. His backing band had an unmistakable celtic rock element to them, similar to that found on early Thin Lizzy records, while their energetic, tanglible stage presence ensured eyes remained glued to them (“Top notch” – mini review from one John Andrews). Bringing the swing and saunter for the night, McCorry’s set was one you can and WANT to dance to.
A night of blues, tunes and sway, McCorry and co. ensured that 2019 started off the correct way.