On the eve of the eve of most things being cancelled because of Heineken…. , sorry, Corona virus, metallers in Belfast had a chance to see Anvil play. And they ended up luckier than they thought as the Dublin gigs starting the night after Belfast were cancelled.
This was a triple bill event with Electus, a West Midlands band taking to the stage first. A very tight band delivering solid and fun rock with catchy riffs and grooves. With a dreadlock wig and dirtied face the vocalist and rhythm guitarist Russel Peake sang his heart out with the likes of “Best of Me”, “Midnight Dancer”, “Soul Breaker” and “Killer Joe”. They were thoroughly enjoying their time on stage as Russel screamed out “Do you like your rock and roll?”
They produced good solid rock with some good headbanging songs they finished their set with “Rider” from their first album.
Next up was Ragdoll Sunday with fast and furious heavily energetic songs. This multinational group took no prisoners whilst on stage with pounding songs like “Peacekeeper” “What A Today” and “Truth’s Hate”. They played their up coming single “Welcome To The Industry” and got the crowd pumping.
A couple curve balls were thrown in with “Marching Lines” and “Animias Curse” as they really brought the heavy to town. They ended their set with “Margins”, “Prophets” and “Knives Out”. Definitely tight, enthusiastic and well worth seeing live.
Then came the headliners Anvil and almost as soon as Steve “Lips” Kudlow was on stage he was off again and right into the crowd all the while playing heavy riffage. He was surrounded, and rightly so, by adoring fans who were out for a great night of rock and metal. What a way to start a show, literally amongst the fans.
Back on stage finally he had a grin a mile wide as they blasted into “666”. As they finished the roar of appreciation just would not stop! Lips was stunned and looked like he had no words for the welcome. But this is Lips “Looks like we have some Anvil fans in tonight” which got another roar.
The Limelight 2 was packed as Anvil went on into “Ooh Baby”. Lips was in a very good mood and told little stories along the way giving the whole experience a unique feel like describing how the next song came up with his wife mentioning about the new laws on cannabis in Canada and so they launched into “Legal At Last”. Then came “Nabbed in Nebraska” before he regaled the enraptured crowd with a story of how he found rock and roll with Elvis on tv and the influence of Chuck Berry before landing “Badass Rock and Roll”.
On Anvil went with “Winged Assassin” and then Lips regaled the audience with a wonderfully funny tale of going on tour with Motorhead and losing 24 hours with Lemmy through drink, drugs and deep discussion before dedicating “Free As The Wind” to Lemmy’s memory. As they played “I’m On Fire” it was easy to see the crowd going absolutely mad with delight as Anvil produced a performance that was just fun metal. All the while Lips, Robb on drums and the ever mesmeric Chris on bass gelled as one in a flurry of energy that carried over the metal and the pure enjoyment to be had rocking out. Everyone in the place had massive grins and were roaring, shouting, headbanging and singing along with the band. You didn’t even need to know who Anvil were to be thoroughly enjoying every moment.
Lips announced that it had been thirteen years since he had to work in food delivery and they launched into “This is Thirteen”, definitely a song of celebration for them. Then came “Mothra”, and yes! Out came the dildo. Who knew that such an implement could be used to such effect – Lips uses it to actually produce some great sounds and the crowd lapped it up no end. Lips talked about getting lost one day and how a nickname for a sat-nav suddenly became the title of the next song, “Bitch In The Box”.
Then came “Swing Thing” and the opportunity for Robb Reiner to shine with an incredible drum solo. During the solo Lips was to the right of the stage taking in the fanatical crowd whilst it must be noted to the left Chris Robertson, the bassist took time to meet with and get a photo with a wheelchair bound fan. It was a truly beautiful moment showing that while they may be glob trotting musicians they really do have solid hearts of gold. And a shoutout to the Limelight staff, in particular the security as one of the security men took the picture of the fan and Chris as well as getting a few photos of the rest of the band for the guy in the wheelchair. That is truly metal!
Then came “I’m Alive” and they finished with the iconic “Metal On Metal”. Off they came and stood by the steps to catch a moment as their time was up. The full house was adamant though that they wanted one more song and so on they went and delivered the rip roaring encore of “Forged In Fire”. The sound of appreciation was deafening. If this was a seated gig, there would have been a standing ovation even before the last note was played.
Anvil know how to put on a show, be it to a large or a small audience. There is no skimping. And in the Limelight they put on an incredible performance that had everyone fully entertained. For those that missed it, you missed such a show. Electus and Ragdoll Sunday performed their hearts out and well worth seeing live.
The unfortunate note to this review is that now the Covid-19 outbreak brought this, and other tours to a swift end for the time being. In that vein it was a fortunate stroke of Belfast luck for gig goers to be able to see Anvil, Electus and Ragdoll Sunday before the clamp down and the cancellation of the Dublin dates.
Hopefully this will just be a glitch in the calendar and by the end of the year Anvil and all the bands affected will be able to get back out onto the tour circuit once more.
To everyone still reading this, keep washing your hands and look out for each other during this rather difficult time. Stay safe and stay metal.
Review by Ivor Whitten
Photography by Darren Mcveigh