Distortion Project Presents The Irontown Diehards pre-release album launch with support from Cross Eyed Mary and On Parole
Saturday 7th May 2016, Limelight 2, Belfast
Last Saturday the Limelight showed off it’s lesser seen rock credentials with the pre-release launch of the Irontown Diehards self titled debut album with a show that even the most discerning of rockers would have approved of.
First up to warm up the crowd were On Parole, who, having finally settled on a permanent lineup, have also solidified their sound – not to mention their look (uni student indie boy rock, in case you were wondering).
With some tasty riffs and a strong sense of melody, they are an entertaining prospect, not least when they are joined onstage by a pal who bellows out a fine, rather bluesy number without spilling a drop of his pint. Their songs tend to be a tad drawn out – the final number seems to go for about ten minutes – but they put on a great show regardless.
Cross Eyed Mary follow, evidently striving to answer that great rhetorical question: “why have only one guitarist when you can have three?” As a result the tiny stage is a jungle of frets; the fact that there are no wince-inducing clashes is pretty impressive, actually.
They belt out their rousing set of toe-tapping bluesy alt rock to what is unfortunately still a fairly empty room, but those present were impressed with their harmonies (guitarist Sarah Dickey adds a welcoming contrast to singer and, er, other guitarist Kevin P. Prior’s masculine drawl) and catchy tunes. Distracting lighting issues aside (wake up Mr light guy, your stage is in total darkness!), theirs is a warm and hooky set.
If you’ve heard the ZZ Top track ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ you’ll know what’s coming next…clad in suits, caps, spats and jauntily angled hats, The Irontown Diehards hit the stage in style and bang on their appointed time. After a rather flowery and expansive intro uttered by frontman Phil Dixon as he climbs the stage steps they launch into a set of hard rock that’s as hot and bawdy as their look is cool and pure.
In between some slightly puzzling soliloquies from Dixon (“the circle of life just takes us around and round and round…”*fades out*…er?) he leads the band through a boisterous and ballsy set, his barreling roar matching the swaggering confidence of the music perfectly.
Naturally the songs from their forthcoming album get a good airing tonight, from the ‘Black Velvet’-esque ‘Fly High’ to the soaring Alter Bridge styled ‘For the Rose’ and the singalong inducing ‘Take the Long Road Home’. Throughout them all the band don’t take their eyes off the ball for a second: there’s not a dropped note, a duff drumbeat or a wonky guitar chord to be heard.
The concentration on all of their faces is matched by the sheer joy of performing the songs live – ’tis a thing of beauty to behold, and the crowd (for yes, the room finally filled up) respond with equal joy and conviction, sure that they are witnessing a band about to take off in a big way.
The rather thespian conclusion, with the band members raising various hats skywards, is greeted with a loud roar of approval; it’s the perfect ‘rock star’ ending to this rocking gig. Do we approve? Hell yes.