Million $ Reload with support from Maverick
Sunday 28th April 2013 – Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill
The Diamond Rock Club is packed tonight and for good reason, as this is no ordinary night in the history of this fine venue. Tonight, one of the country’s finest rock bands plays in one of the country’s finest rock venues (if not THE finest) and it’s all going to be recorded for posterity. The sense of anticipation is palpable. Everyone is getting prepared for what is about to happen by taking on extra fluids it seems. They were expecting a sweaty one – and they were not disappointed.
Belfast ‘Hair Metallers’ Maverick are the under-card tonight and fair play to them, they did not wilt under the pressure of opening up for such a big band on such a big night. Clearly inspired by Motley Crue, the band look and sound the part and were pretty tight which, considering the prestige of the gig, was no mean feat. They are reasonably young, or at least they seem so to my veteran eyes, so they have done well to get to this stage. They have all the correct component parts; good lead guitars, steady rhythm section and a decent Metal sound. In David Balfour they have a singer who has all the abilities required to be a good metal frontman; a decent tone and range (though he could do with being a little more consistent in his delivery), an ear-piercing scream (a necessity for metal) and an affable on-stage demeanour. What they lack, judging by what I heard tonight, is the ability to put it all together in the right order to compose good memorable Metal songs. I don’t mean sophistication, I mean melodies that hook you in with big choruses as the cherry on top. In other words, exactly what made Motley Crue, Skid Row, Twisted Sister and the like, the huge bands they were in their day. It’s not to say Maverick are devoid of ideas, musically, melodically or lyrically, it’s just I don’t think they have put all the ingredients together in the right blend – yet. But I’ll be sure to keep an eye on their progress and will check out their upcoming E.P. ‘Talk’s Cheap’.
Contrast this with Million $ Reload, the band we are all here to see. This is a band that does know how to write memorable tunes and you don’t have to know their back catalogue to enjoy them. Before they take to the stage, an announcement is made reminding the punters what is happening tonight and asking for that extra bit of crowd support for their efforts. There is really no need because, by the time the intro tape fades, the crowd are already baying for ‘Re…load’. Then ‘Superslave’ kicks in and we’re off and running. It’s a song that kicks off their debut album ‘Anthems of a Degeneration’ and it’s perfect for kicking off their soon-to-be live album ‘As Real As It Gets’. It’s a song that displays all that makes M$R the fantastic band it is. It has the G ‘n’ R swagger, the tight-ass rhythm section, the intensity and to top it all off, it has Bonn Scott’s reincarnation himself on vocals…Mr Phil Conalane. The band are up for it, we’re up for it and the D.R.C. is bouncing from the front to the back, from the middle of the standing section to the seated sections, where everyone is standing on their seats anyway. Pulling no punches, the band go from their opener straight into one of their best songs (and one of my faves) the Sleaze Rock masterpiece that is, ‘Livin’ In The City’. They pull off a magnificently raucous version without losing any of the tightness to their play; a sign of a band at the top of its game.
The ‘no frills Rock ‘n’ Roll’ (as the band labels itself) keeps coming apace with a triple shot of songs from their second album, ‘A Sinner’s Saint’, in ‘Can’t Tie Me Down’, ‘Pretty People’ and ‘Blow Me Away’; the latter having the type of sing-along chorus tailor-made for nights like this, where the crowd sing/shout along and punch the air in time to the music. Conalane screams his lungs out as he perches atop the monitors and conducts proceedings while Brian and Andy trade riffs with effortless ease and pull various accomplished cool dude poses, looking every inch the stars they ought to be. In the background Finn and Kie keep the whole thing stitched together. Simple but very effective.
Next up is the band’s signature tune, ‘Tattoos & Dirty Girls’, a song steeped in the Sleaze Rock heydays of 1987/88; of Guns ‘n’ Roses and Faster Pussycat, not that it sounds dated, far from it. The crowd know it without introduction and the intensity rises further and, as Conalane growls ‘Oh….what do you like?’, the crowd answer emphatically with the song title. It’s what live music is all about. The mood changes slightly with the more reflective ‘The Last Icon’; a song about Bon Scott . I’m sure he was looking on with approval. The moment of reflection is over and ‘Wicked’ kicks in with its infectious riff and naughty lyrics. Again, Bon would approve.
It’s at this moment the band take a short breather and Phil takes time to thank everyone for turning up and tell us that the band really appreciate every pound that people spend on their music and merchandise. He admits the band may never sell a million records but said they will never forget who put them where they are…unlike a certain Sebastian Bach. Well said that man. The crowd roar approval and ‘I Am The Rapture’ rams the point home and there is no let up as the ferocious ‘Fight The System’ keeps the crowd bouncing on the spot with their hands in the air. There’s still no let up as the punchy ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ gives away to the monster anthem ‘ Bullets In The Sky’. It’s at this point that I notice the late-middle-aged man in the suit trousers and tweed jacket who I had spotted earlier and thought had come to the wrong place, is up on the seats belting out ‘bullets in the sky, bullets in the sky, bullets’ along with the rest of the crowd. That my friends, is what the D.R.C is all about – there is no social or generational demographic…only a love for rock music. Just as it should be.
‘Broken’ signals a change of pace and feel and is a really fine ballad played and sung with feeling and grit. The band have the crowd in the palm of their hand, and keep them there. We’re on the final stretch now and that signals a return to the hard aggressive fayre we have enjoyed so far. ‘Goodnite New York’ and ‘Down To The Wire’ come and go in a blur and all-too-soon we are at the end of the show, with just one little surprise as the band says goodnight by cranking out a rip-roaring version of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Cowboy Song’.
Having been privileged to witness this show, I cannot wait to hear it again when ‘As Real As It Gets’ is released this summer. If my recall of tonight is anything other than completely flawed it’ll be as raw, energetic and accomplished as ‘If You Want Blood’ or ‘G ‘n’ R Lies’. M$R and the D.R.C. are the perfect match. Any self-respecting Rock fan must check out M$R live and take in a show at the D.R.C.
Next up for the D.R.C. is Trucker Diablo’s album launch on May 18th. Should be another cracker.