On a very chilly night in the back streets of Belfast metallers and rockers of all swathes huddled outside the iconic Voodoo, a bar that knows how to roll out tunes and a home to some fantastic metal and rock.
The pilgrimage began with the walk up the well worn stairs, along the landing and into the temple of metal on the first floor. And tonight, it was a very full congregation come to listen to not one, but two mighty titans of metal. Tonight, thanks to The Distortion Project and Voodoo, the great conclave would witness Northern Ireland’s own CURSED SUN who were going to whip up the gathering into a conflagration before the coming of EVIL SCARECROW, the greatest metal band to ever write a song about a robot. Probably.
And as foretold CURSED SUN occupied the blessed stage and immediately proved why they should be the support act for tonight’s headliners. With “Breeding”, and “Primordial” Andrew Jones Cassidy and the CURSED SUNS ‘Beis’ blew away any cobwebs that might have been hanging around. The songs were rumbling out with the usual hard edged, riffed up thunderous metal storm that is only to be expected when Andrew, Jonny, Ciaran, Chris, and Steve unleash the swirling metal tempest. This was only hammered home with “Cataclysmic”, “The Seven”, and “Crawl Space”.
CURSED SUN were not holding back in any way and delivered an incredible set that rumbled the walls and floors only to hammer home “MDK 187”, and the final song “Replicant”. The beginning of the evening could not have been better, more energetic or more satisfying. CURSED SUN are a band to see live without a doubt.
After a short recess to set everything up the time was ripe for EVIL SCARECROW to appear. The stage was almost filled to the brim with props and sets letting everyone know that they were in for one Hurricanado of a show. And with that on came Dr Rabid Hell, Brother Dimitri Pain, Kraven Morrdeth, Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist, and not quite Princess Luxury. They had to leave a large portion of their tour set due to the wonderful costs of crossing the Irish Sea but, as Jeff Wayne opined, still they came.
All dressed in their finest weirdness, this full of fun black metal band exploded onto stage with “Way to Die” and what a blast off it was. On into “Skulls Of Our Enemies” and “Morbid Witch” the incredible sound of EVIL SCARECROW showed everyone that they are consummate musicians first and foremost. There was no mistake, these lads from England held everyone entranced in a whirlwind of sensory metal unlike anything seen in Voodoo previously (or probably in the future) before doing the unthinkable. Dr Hell, in his inimitable way, announced “Dance Of The Cyclops” and called forth everyone to take part. So for the first, but far from the last time that night, a packed Voodoo full of metalheads clad in traditional leather, denim, spikes, patches, black t-shirts and everything in between, musical Vikings ready to mosh every wall down danced in the most Monty Pythonesque way leaving anyone watching dumbfounded. And lo! It was mightily entertaining. And without giving anyone much room to start thinking too much and have time to raise a finger and exclaim “Wait! What??” EVIL SCARECROW launched into “Robototron” – the greatest and most epic metal song ever created about a robot. Probably. Nah, scratch that ‘Probably’ and go for ‘Definitely’. And yes, they did it. Yup. Everyone, in splendid synchronicity, did the Robot dance. In time with the monstrous yet stunning EVIL SCARECROW Robot bullying the band on stage. It was such a bewilderingly beautiful sight. You might have even felt a tiny little welling up inside.
Then came “Blacken The Everything” before the introduction to the wonders of Brother Pain with an incredible display through the “The Ballad Of Brother Pain” when he had the opportunity for him to show off how well he could stand on his head. Dr Hell then split the crowd in half and led everyone in a side splitting rendition of “Cosmos Goth Moth Gong” as once again crowd participation, whilst not compulsory was mesmerizingly irresistible, as like a tennis volley each side took it in turns to roar each of the words of the song title, battling back and forth, faster and faster. The atmosphere couldn’t get any better.
The audience was then treated to an alter ego of Jen, the band’s manager, that of a noble character from one of the games millions played as they grew up. That of a Leprechaun ….. er, no sorry, that of Link. All in the name of Metal!! And it only added a smattering of ecstasy to “End Level Boss”. On they went into “Space Dementia” before the ultimate competition of sexy metal dancing as Dr Hell extolled a split room once again during “Red Riding Hood”. Brother Pain and Kaven Morrdeth had been embroiled in a bitter battle throughout the tour with the score being 6 to 7 wins in favour of Kraven. If Brother Pain won then Dublin would be the deciding gig. But, Lo! It was not to be as Kravens emissaries of black metal sexy dancing crushed the opposition of Brother Pains. The war was over.
But not the set. Out came the terrifying Crab to ensnare all in its claws during “Crabulon” and once more the room was overcome with EVIL SCARECROW madness. The mass of bodies, almost as one, stood askance arms raised in a lax cupped manner, hands formed into clamp like appendages before the strange mating dance of the crab was celebrated as they all moved from side to side. It was a fantastic uplifting way to finish the set. But as with most gigs there would be an encore. Dr Hell and his crew though could not be bothered leaving the stage and pretended to everyone that they had come back on. They hit a home run with “Polterghost” before everyone had to hold their arm in the air and spin round on the crescendo of “Hurricanado”.
What can be said about this night of comedic metal? CURSED SUN were superb as ever with their delivery and could have held their own as a headliner. But EVIL SCARECROW could not be topped by any means. This band is the full package without any doubt, even the lads of CURSED SUN fully joined in with abandon as EVIL SCARECROW delivered a pure Carlsberg of a show. Anyone who did not make it to the Antartartica tour should kick themselves with utter regret. They had everything – metal, costumes, a stage set of pure Blue Peter nostalgia, a set list of incredible songs, and the best attitude you could ever hope for from a legendary band. Not one person left without a great smile of satisfaction stretched from one ear to the other, filled to the brim of knowing they could say they had been at one of the greatest gigs Voodoo had ever hosted.
If you ever, and I mean EVER, get a chance to see Dr Hell and his Blue Peter metal colleagues you simply must make every effort to go. They made a huge number of new devoted fans on a cold night in Belfast. A night that will be discussed for a long time to come.
Review by Ivor Whitten, Happy Metal Geek
Photos by Steven Donnelly