The Outcasts with support from The Lee Harveys and Mohican Jack
Friday 5th April 2013 – Auntie Annies, Belfast
This reviewer has spent more time in Auntie Annies than is necessary. But gigs like this make it worthwhile.
This is the debut gig for Mohican Jack. Formed from the remnants of Cut Throat (a late 90’s punk group who later evolved into Runnin’ Riot), their songs are a mixture of the speed and aggression of US hardcore with the melodic touches of Oi. At times shambolic and at other times menacing, they are ones to watch.
The Lee Harveys offer a more melodic take on 77 punk rock. Although the band are enjoyable and the songs are boppable enough, they are one dimensional and begin to grate quite quickly. Odd that they list The Cramps as a band they enjoy listening to, as they haven’t picked up their ability for a groovy, demented riff.
With the ‘Good Vibrations’ film on general release, The Outcasts have a higher profile than ever. They take to the stage buoyed by the momentum and proceed to demolish Auntie Annies. Everyone excels on their instruments: Martin Cowan throws out those riffs with menace, Greg Cowan holds things with his busy but unfussy bass playing, Raymond Falls hammers the beat and Petesy Burns (ex Stalag 17/F.U.A.L/A-Political) is a sterling replacement for Getty on guitar.
They may have been seen as the nasty bastards of the Harp Bar with the squad of nutcases for fans, but their songs aren’t nasty or nihilistic. They run the gauntlet of genres, which makes for a more diverse gig. Punk pop (NOT pop punk, there’s a difference), punk, post punk, rockabily and the choppy reggae like riffs of ‘Magnum Force’ all get thrown into the mix.
While the performances are spot on, the setlist is a cause for concern. Aside from ‘Beating and Screaming’, it is pretty much the same set that this writer has seen the band perform a number of times since their 2011 reformation. There seems to be little interest from the band in either digging into the back catalogue (‘Machine Gun’ and ‘Swamp Fever’ would be good to hear) or coming up with new material.
It’s known that there is at least one song (‘Ghetto Blaster’) which was played live but never recorded. And Martin Cowan has mentioned that there is another song called ‘Hells Bells’ (not the AC/DC one) that was in consideration at one point. So there’s two newish songs that could be played live that would prove that the band aren’t just reforming for the sake of it, but because they have something to offer.
Their contemporaries, The Defects, have been ploughing this furrow for a while. And it has paid off as the band are now considered to be a current band who still have something to offer. This writer believes that this is a route that The Outcasts need to take. Or they can see their pulling power rapidly diminish.
The Outcasts are at the crossroads: either change the set to retain interest or be content to be wheeled out for a night of nostalgia.