Skypilot/Conjuring Fate/Rosco’s Riot – Belfast, Limelight 2 – 10 June 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby and The Dark Queen   
Friday, 16 June 2017 04:30

It had been a busy week for the relatively small Belfast rock and metal communities, with three “big name” touring acts hitting this very city centre complex of venues in as many nights… it was inevitable that, in these times of over-stretched finite resources, something was gonna give – and just as inevitable that it was the local bands who were going to suffer.


Roscos Riot 3


And so it appeared to be the case, at least in the early part of this evening, as to say that the crowd was sparse when openers Rosco’s Riot took to the stage would be something of an understatement: at first it looked like they were going to be playing to the other bands, their partners, the bar staff – and, of course, your Über Rock team… fortunately, the situation improved as both their set and the evening progressed.


Of course, crowd numbers don’t matter to dedicated rock ‘n’ roll bands (I’ve seen some play to literally just myself, the promoter, the sound guy and the barman), and so RR kick off proceedings with the confident swagger of seasoned performers playing to a packed football stadium, their thick, crunching grooves delivered with flair and panache.


Roscos Riot 2


Technically, they’re tighter than Theresa May’s buttocks on election day. Laying down big ass riffs, with plenty of dirt under their strings, it’s like Motörhead jamming with Black Stone Cherry: thick and dense, but with a raw energy and a deep suvern groove. The only negative is that the otherwise impressive Tim Knox needs to enunciate his intros, as every one of them was unintelligible – and he can’t blame the sound, as the mix was perfect in every regard all night.


Conjuring Fate 3


A quick trip to the bogs and the bar shows that the venue has started to fill up during the half hour of RR’s set, all ready for Conjuring Fate and their fierce guitar harmonies combined with fist-punching, neck-snapping anthemic riffs and choruses to die for. Not only do they have a highly charismatic frontman in Tommy Daly (does the guy ever stop smiling?) but also two guitarists who can more than give him a run for his money (I reckon only Karl Gibson has a grin bigger than the singer).


The quintet are strong and confident in both their sound, which is underpinned by the huge double kick work of young Bogdan Walczak and the rock solid bass of Steve Legear, and stagecraft: in the latter department, they certainly have all the right moves in terms of their choreography. They’re also having lots of fun: as I said, apart from Phil Horner trying to pull as many gurns as humanly possible during the over-quick run through of highlights from their new ‘Valley Of Shadows’ album (just re-issued via Pure Steel Records), they’re constantly smiling and fooling around – pulling each other’s hair and beards – but without once detracting from the seriousness of delivering their brand of powerful twin-guitar driven quality metal.


Conjuring Fate 1


“We’re Skypilot and this is our birthday” declares the headliner’s frontman Dave, in typically dour Northern Irish manner. It’s a reference that this gig marks the trio’s 15th anniversary as a band. Despite hailing from the otherwise quiet village of Doagh, Skypilot deliver an absolutely huge sound, characterized by big grinding bass lines, snappy percussion and a heavy-ass bottom end; but there’s also a surprising lightness of touch that defies the intensity of the dense groove, much the same as the sound attained by the likes of Clutch.


Skypilot 2


Big throbbing gristles of barbaric noise flow from the speakers, inspiring and energizing as they wash over you with the vibrancy of the wake created by the fast ferries docking in the nearby harbour. Their style is hard to categorize – which is always a great achievement, as far as I am concerned – combining elements of classic hard rock, southern doom and NWOBHM, thus defying the listener to do just that and explore the same paths as the band themselves are paving. The result is hypnotic, but also leaves you wanting to glance away to see what is sneaking up to tap you on the shoulder, such is the air of menace that lurks under the music’s well-crafted veneer.


Skypilot 4


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