Green Monkey, The Couth & Echo Raptors
Saturday 14th November 2015 – 39 Gordon Street, Belfast
Shizznigh Promotions, brainchild of local Svengali Jonny McKee, have been organising some of the best gigs and promoting some of the finest talent around Belfast for the last five years. Shizznigh bettered themselves once again when Saturday 14th November saw a stuffed 39 Gordon Street treated to a free exhibition from three of the finest rock n roll bands in Belfast.
The eclectic evening’s entertainment saw mod revivalists Echo Raptors take to the stage around 10:15. Still on a role from playing the Shine 90s Weekender with Britpop heroes Happy Mondays, The Farm, Inspiral Carpets and Peter Hook, the four piece brought their classic rock sound to an audience that had begun to swell. Opening with garagey rocker ‘Real Live Wire’, they kept the ball rolling with the raga tinged psychedelia of ‘Idle Dream’, whose spiralling Byrds meets T Rex riff brought an ominous air to proceedings. They continued with Tongue Tied and the chugging hard rock of ‘Plastic People’, with guitarist Vince Caddell’s wailing, Second Coming style fretwork filling the room.
A change of mood arrived with the unexpectedly lovely pop gem ‘Change My Way’, whose jangling riff was matched by frontman Phillip Rainey swapping his usual sneer for a sweet croon in delivering the song’s heartfelt, hopeful lyrics. Soon, regular order was restored through the crunchy rock of ‘She’s So Free’, with a squall of free-wheeling guitars giving way to the show-stopping, Lennonesque ballad ‘Believe in Love’, an instant singalong that should hold a firm place in the band’s setlist for years. Echo Raptors brought an end to their set with the monster ‘Time Bomb’, a full band work out with Caddell’s signature squeal, Rainey’s cocky delivery, Emmet Stewart’s thumping drums and Niall Hanna’s smooth bass, giving the crowd a send-off and a fierce statement of intent they’re sure to remember. With the success of fellow 90 revivalists Wolf Alice and Courtney Barnett, Echo Raptors can be buoyed by the fact that the sound off 1995 is more alive in 2015 than ever (as can their delighted audience).
Following Echo Raptors was the Ramones-riffage of Lisburn pop punks The Couth. Promoting their recent ‘Friday Night Fever’ EP, they opened with the release’s lead track ’45 Seconds’, and the track’s snotty energy perfectly translates to a live environment. With the crowd now at full attention, they delved into 2012’s debut EP ‘Casual Sex at the Omniplex’ for ‘Suck My Honey’ and ‘Girl in the Suit’, with singer David McCrum clearly revelling in the potent pop-punk brew he and his bandmates were creating. Next tune ‘Down By The River’ is sonically a million miles from the grungy Neil Young murder ballad of the same name, with the poppy nostalgia of the singalong chorus sounding like a classic Ash single. The influence of a certain band of New York ‘bruddahs’ is undeniable in The Couth’s music, and the Lisburn boys payed homage with a blistering cover of their signature song ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, which even saw bassist Matthew McCrum give a suitable Dee Dee style ‘1, 2, 3, 4!’ count in. Returning to ‘Friday Night Fever’ material with the Stooges style rave-up ‘Wild Notion’ and ‘Pretty Lady’, the punks had the filled dance floor filled by the time they reached the fan favourite send-off of the blistering ‘Bloodbreaker’ and Stones referencing one night stand anthem ‘We Spent the Night Together’.
Shortly after midnight The Couth made way for the blistering punk funk of Green Monkey. Seeing a band that can headline the Limelight in a venue as intimate as 39 Gordon Street it always a thrill, and the band’s set didn’t disappoint. Kicking off with the pulsating Pulp Fiction referencing ‘Superfly TNT’, they then unleashed bouncing party jams ‘In Effect’ and ‘Young Bloods’ to the packed crowd, before an intense rendition of early funk metal favourite ‘Young Bloods.’ The highlight of September’s Limelight gig was an unexpected cover of ‘Killing in the Name’, and Green Monkey pulled off the same trick by dropping a note-perfect rendition of The Beastie Boys’ classic Sabotage, causing a shocked and ecstatic audience to bounce along in giddy abandon. Green Monkey brought the temperature down with the laid back ‘Hush’ and ‘Darkside’, before frontman MC Coolikedat’s free love ode ‘Fuck Years’ and the throbbing ‘Time To Get Up’ bring it right back up again. Fan favourites ‘Trouble’ and ‘Fix’ warmed the crowd up for their now-signature Rage Against the Machine cover, before the band grant the enraptured crowd their encore wish with the hilarious lyrical self-portrait ‘Coolikedat’.
In all, the night was a resounding success, proving that both the ‘sound of Belfast’, an eclectic and electrifying mix brilliantly represented by three of the country’s best bands, and the future and quality of Shizznigh Promotions, is in rude health, and long may that continue.