Review by Ivor Whitten for MPM
The sun was still out as crowds began forming with expected anticipation as tonight the mega rockers Rival Sons with their support act Dirty Honey, an up-and-coming rock group from Los Angles and visiting Belfast for the first time.
Once people started filling out the wonderful Limelight there was a real sense that tonight was going to be a great night of rock and roll. And as it turned out, it was.
Up first was the four-piece rock and roll crew Dirty Honey, who many have been following as they rise up the rock ladder and there was already a very large crowd gathered to see them put on a show.
To loud applause on walked Marc LaBelle (lead vocals), John Notto (guitar), Justin Smolian (bass) and Corey Coverstone (drums) and with a loud “Hello Belfast” they kicked off with the fast-paced dirty rock and roll “Gypsy” and immediately everyone could tell this was a top-notch performing group as Marc’s undulating vocals with a huge range belted out the lyrics with a passion many would be jealous of.
The crowd were rocking out in time to the fast rhythmic drumbeat. The band were not mucking about with a smooth blues rock twang emanating from John and solid bass from Justin, this was a full-on package. Marc hit the tone perfectly when he told the packed audience “Its Friday night and I can tell you’re ready for some Rock and Roll!” which was followed by a huge roar of approval from the crowd.
On they went with “Break You” and “Heartbreaker” all with the encouraging words from Marc “C’Mon Belfast” which really was not needed as everyone was mesmerised and going wild to the Whiskey and rock sound rollig of the stage. They had a real early Aerosmith feel and vibe with their tight choreography, whiskey infused vocals and dirty blues tones.
The Wire”, “Tied Up”, “California Dreamin’” and “Another Last Time” kept the crowd on thir toes, shaking their heads and rocking like there was no tomorrow. Marc even took the chance during the slowed down and groovy “Another Last Time” to come out into the audience and use the Bar as an improvised stage.
They finished their set with “When I’m Gone” and the high-octane rock and rolla song “Rolling 7s”. Wow, what a performance. Dirty Honey are every inch the pure rockstars and left the audience exhausted as they pulled every bit of attention mentally, emotionally and physically from the crowd. The roof shook in appreciation as they left the stage.
Up next were the Long Beach, California rockers Rival Sons. Jay Buchanan (Vocals), Scott Holiday (Guitar), Michael Miley (Bass) and Dave Beste (Drums) were joined on stage by Todd Ögren on keyboards. The crowd went absolutely nuts to see in front of them the long time internationally acclaimed group that have been rocking the world since 2009.
Straight in with “All Over the Road” and “Young Love” much to the pure joy of the packed Limelight. The heat may have been building but so was the energy and Rival Sons capitalised on that with ease. The southern style affectation of the relaxed swagger of everyone on stage was spellbinding.
The emotional investment Jay was already pumping into his vocals from the very start meant everyone’s attention was entirely on the stage. On into “Pressure and Time” Jay pushed the crowd even more encouraging them to sing along, and really it didn’t take much encouragement. Lungs were pushed their limit as the audience sang back to the band.
The crowd were fully invested and there was no escape. Next up was “Only One” with a minimal break before a tour de force of banging tune after banging tune pumped of the stage like a mighty juggernaut. “Get Mine”, “Save Me”, “Burn Down Los Angeles”, “Gypsy Heart”, and “White Noise” came one after the other like a heavy weight hitting home with blow after blow and no let up.
There was pure chemistry with the band, between themselves and the audience. It was a night that everyone totally forgot about what was outside and all was focussed on the band on the stage.
There was a short instrumental from Scot and the rest of the band to help finish off the roller coaster of hit after hit before the almost mini set finished and then the first part of the show was rounded off with “Face of Light” and an incredible guitar solo. Scott knew his guitar and wielded it like a pure rock god with his fret skills and his presence.
After a very short moment they were back on the stage landing in with “Too Bad”, “Open My Eyes” and the crowd favourite and iconic Rival Sons song fuzz rock “Electric Man”. It was just before this hit was landed with pure verve and uncompromising rock Jay noticed an audience member had fallen and went to their aid making sure they were ok saying “When someone goes down, you take care of them”. They may be good old rockstars, but they don’t forget their roots or the fans.
The power driven vocals of Jay is something to behold and leaves you wondering how on earth his voice holds out. The power, passion and emotional depth of his voice is just amazing live. “Jordan”, “Shooting Stars” and the superb “Feral Roots” kept landing the audience with pure rapture filled joyous rock and roll.
They finished the set with “Do Your Worst” and “Nobody Wants to Die” to euphoric applause from the solidly packed music venue. The walls shook and the roof juddered. Rival Sons had delivered a solid performance that left everyone more than happy to have spent their Friday night in the Limelight.
Overall, the two bands just seemed the perfect fit both delivering their own version of modern rock immersed in old time rhythm and blues to an appreciative audience with such ease they made it all look so easy. This was a good old rock and roll experience that should not be missed, with both bands in peek condition delivering a fantastic night out. If you have a chance to see them, then take it.
The Roval Sons “Pressure and Time” tour continues on throughout the UK and Europe. Find out more at https://www.rivalsons.com/