On a cold, very wet night in Belfast when anyone sensible would be tucked up in front of the fire and keeping cosy, intrepid music lovers ploughed their way to the Limelight for an evening of insane fun as the wonderous Electric Six were playing. They are popular regulars in Belfast and it was a testament that their audience space was upgraded to the Limelight 1 due to demand.
Tonight the support came from an eclectic Southern Irish band from Wicklow, Dangerous Dave and the Side Effects, who really were a perfect support act for the evening. Dangerous Dave and his band launched themselves onto the stage and just started having fun, immediately endearing themselves with the small but growing audience.
With songs like “Recreational drug”, “I’ve Got F**king Dreads”, and “I’m addicted” blasting out the crowd stood for a moment, not necessarily knowing what to make of them. To put it into context, you had an enthusiastic middle aged English sounding reggae/ska/punk singer, a steampunk lead guitar and a couple of rocker looking fans playing bass and drums. This may send warning signals to many a rock fan but in this case it was like a Monty Python-esque skit that just made you want to stand and appreciate them.
Continuing with “Parallel universe”, you almost felt you really were in an alternative universe. But one of fun, where the raw punk/rock attitude of not giving a damn and going for what you want no matter what anyone else thinks ruled the roost. All with a sprinkle of metalised reggae. Then came “Rock & Roll on the Dole” and a very good performance for their song “Philip”. This band was a strange, mesmerising mixture of Ska/Punk/Rock and pure unadulterated enthusiasm that just won everyone over.
Are they incredible? No. Are the vocals stunning? Definitely not. But that was not what they seemed to be going for. They loved being on stage, a bit nervous but going with the “What the hell” attitude that made them very down to earth and lovable.
The crowd responded in kind, yes it took a moment to warm up but their delivery of fun songs that had vibes of genres rather than being purely defined in one or another meant people enjoyed the spectacle. They performed one of their earliest songs “I met my pet on the internet” with great aplomb and much enthusiasm from the now gathering crowd.
They ended their set with “If life gets better than this let me know” to much disappointment of the crowd that it was their last. Whilst eclectic and almost chaotic in feel they gave it all they got with perfectly time under 3 minute songs that made you feel you wanted to go back and hear more.
The time was coming for the appearance of Electric Six. The Limelight was now packed out and it showed the band had a very wide appeal, from hard core metalheads right through to the suited and booted for a wild prosecco night out ladies to the tracksuit clad boyos from the hard lands. And all just chilling together in one big hotchpotch of humanity.
On came Dick Valentine, Johnny Na$hinal AKA The White Wolf, Tait Nucleus?, Da Ve, Rob Lower and Hyperduke Bonanza. Electric Six had arrived. And to a massive roar from the audience. This was going to be a performance to a willing crowd.
Immediately kicking off with “Mr. Woman” and “Bride of the Devil” the place just started jumping. It was like a coiled spring until the first notes were played and Dick’s vocals kicked in. After that it was just a wave of pure energetic joy as fans of all
types rolled themselves up tightly in the lyrical poetry flowing from the stage. The place was heaving. Comedic funk rock is definitely a thing and it was being exemplified on the stage by Electric Six.
Next was “Rock and Roll Evacuation”, “Naked Pictures (Of Your Mother)” and “Down at McDonnelzzz”. Fun, eclectic, chaotic, insane entertainment with tight delivery to show that whilst they were having fun they took the music seriously. This is a band who really appreciates their fanbase. The classic “The New Shampoo” was delivered with gusto before the iconic “Gay Bar” when the whole place just shook with joy. Who else could sing “Let me take you to a Gay bar” and have metalheads jumping about singing along?
The phenomenal “She’s White” and “Be My Dark Angel” were songs that just peeled back the fun and showed Electric Six were such a talented group. Mix that in with Dick Valentine’s perfect level of interaction with the crowd proved beyond any doubt this was a truly professional band. There was enough banter and enough quips without going overboard. Utter joy.
Next was “Rubber Rocket”, “Slices of You”, and “Improper Dancing” that just kept the roof shaking as everyone lost themselves in the moment. The monumental “Danger! High Voltage” was delivered with just as much fun and vigour as everyone sang along. “Synthesizer” saw Dick using the chorus to wave to the crowd who dutifully waved back with the correct hand and at the right moment. It was symmetry in motion.
“Daddy’s Boy”, “Dance Epidemic” and “I Buy the Drugs” finished the set. This was a performance that was full of energy, fun, joy and love. Yes, it can be hokey to say that but it was exactly what it was. It was a roomful of good friends enjoying a little while of respite and finding a fun way of releasing the tensions of a stressful week.
And what would be a gig without the inimitable encore? Electric Six were not going to leave the crowd hanging. Back on they came to deliver a fantastic set piece with “Bite Me” and finished with the incredible “Dance Commander”.
Honestly? You may have only really come across Electric Six through their “Gay Bar” and “Danger! High Voltage” songs but these guys are sooooooo much more than the sum of those two songs. All the songs are catchy, have that Pulp attitude and are tightly delivered.
It is sometimes strange to think, for those not yet acquainted with them, that they have delivered 14 albums over the last 20 years. If you get a chance to ever see Electric Six, to see them play their two most famous songs live are one reason to see them. Period. But you will find that those two songs are only a tiny tip of a punk rock iceberg of talented musicians delivering perfectly formed catchy tunes from start to finish. What a show and what a performance. Highly recommended.
Review by Ivor Whitten
Photography by Metal Planet Music