Halloween Charity Ball: Baleful Creed, Bakken, Screaming Eagles & Maverick
Friday 18th October 2013 – Voodoo, Belfast
If you’re a fan of heavy rock in any of its guises and you WEREN’T at the Voodoo Rock Club last Friday night (18th October)…well. Bad news, my friend: you missed a cracking gig! Under the banner of ‘The Halloween Charity Ball’ and put together by DJ Yorkie and DJ Damin from AiiRadio.net, the purpose of the evening was to raise funds for the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy charity And my goodness, didn’t messrs Yorkie and Damin choose well: hard rockers Baleful Creed, Highway to Hell winners Screaming Eagles, the thrashtastic Bakken and glorious retro rockers Maverick – a heady mix, indeed!
Up first, veteran rockers Baleful Creed. Anyone who has seen them before knows what to expect, and BC never disappoint: this is classic, groovin’ hard rock, the proper stuff. It is simply toe-tappingly, head-bobbingly good, especially when they sound as tight as they do tonight. The bluesy chug and strong harmonies in songs such as ‘Crazy Man’ and ‘Thorazine’ combine beautifully with their galloping drums and languorous, sinewy grooves, to the delight of the crowd. They end their set with the grungy, gravelly ‘Suffer In Silence’, which leaves the crowd well and truly warmed up.
Screaming Eagles are a slightly different prospect; there’s nothing laid-back or insouciant about this band! They bound onstage in a squeal of guitars and immediately blow everyone’s hair back with their high-energy, rollicking rock n roll. The band are enthusiastic and energetic throughout their set, with vocalist Chris Fry emanating real charisma and stage presence – this dude was born to sing. Their sound is reminiscent of both the hard rock of AC/DC and the swaggering groove of The Answer: boogie music, pure and simple. They charge their way through tracks from their debut album ‘From the Flames’ including ‘Hungry For More’, ‘One Man Revolution’ and the ‘Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing’-esque ‘Vampire’.
They sound fierce and hungry; having won ‘Highway to Hell’ in Glasgow just a few weeks ago, this is clearly a band going places (especially judging by the noisy appreciation from the crowd). Their short-but-sweet cover of DC’s ‘it’s a Long Way To the Top’ sends the crowd into a frenzy, particularly when Fry enters the scrum to sing part of the song.
They finish with the absolutely immense ‘Rock N Roll Soul’, which has virtually everybody on their feet; it’s a blazing end to a set full of highlights. With the talent, enthusiasm and charm that SE demonstrate at every gig, it is clear that they are destined for greatness. Watch this space!
Somewhat the ‘odd man out’ in the lineup is Bakken, who are up next. Their modern, power metal-tinged take on thrash, while technically flawless, unquestionably makes them the heaviest act of the night. As a result, the ‘we came to rock n roll’ crowd seem a tad bewildered and subdued as the band enter the stage to suitably epic-sounding intro music and immediately blast into a set full of growls, roars, head-banging and ripping guitar solos. It’s a pity really – they are an engaging and talented bunch, and from this old metalhead’s perspective, it’s heartwarming to see young bands still kneeling at the altar of thrash.
Their music encompasses influences aplenty, from Maiden’s epic-ness to Metallica’s thrashy roar to Trivium’s modern twist on thrash (in fact vocalist/guitarist Simon Pickett’s deep, ominous voice and impressive range are rather reminiscent of Trivium’s Matt Heafy, while his blonde locks, ‘Flying V’ style guitar and even his wristbands call to mind a young James Hetfield). They pummel the crowd with various songs from debut album ‘Death of a Hero’ including ‘Get Back to Your Feet’ and ‘Sasquatch’ before ending with the thunderous driving riff of ‘Mystic Mogul’; a terrific set despite the slight lack of crowd enthusiasm. One senses that, in their native habitat (at a metal gig surrounded by metalheads), Bakken would (and should!) triumph.
Speaking of triumph…to the strains of ‘Rocky’-sounding intro music, headliners Maverick glide on-stage to a hero’s welcome and immediately launch into their titular track, with its retro beat and eye watering high notes. There’s little chit-chat tonight as they swing through tracks from their debut EP ‘Talk’s Cheap’ and others, such as ‘Snakeskin Sinner’ and ‘The Night is Only Young’, all drenched in their ’Motley sleaze meets Van Halen swagger’ sound. Their ‘drinkin’, partyin’ and women’ vibe, combined with some superb song writing and fist-pumping riffs has resulted in songs that are catchy as hell and hugely enjoyable, as the gleeful crowd sing-alongs ably demonstrates. The sleazy, galloping riff of ‘Cat Got Your Tongue’ and the balls/vice screams of ‘Hellfire and Brimstone’ are clear set highlights, leaving the crowd ecstatic and the band wreathed in smiles. A spirited cover of David Lee Roth’s ‘Panama’ wraps up their lively and stirring set.
Four fantastic bands and a bucketload of money raised for a worthy charity surely equates to a successful and entertaining night in anyone’s book. Honestly, the level of original talent in this wee country is astonishing! Kudos to the organisers for tapping into this talent and to the bands for putting on such a brilliant show.