|Trucker Diablo / Hell’s Addiction – Ahoghill, Diamond Rock Club – 17 December 2016|
|Written by Mark Ashby and The Dark Queen|
|Thursday, 22 December 2016 05:00|
Christmas! Personally speaking, I can see it far enough! I loathe and despise almost everything it stands for: the commercialism, the over-pricing, the fake expressions of love and friendship, the bars packed with once-a-year drinkers wearing garishly horrible woolly jumpers… bleeugh! If it wasn’t for the grandkids, I’d just kick the whole fucking period into touch quicker than Paddy Jackson converting at the Kingspan. But, this time of year does bring one piece of glad tidings (sic) – the annual Trucker Diablo festive party in ye olde DRC… So, all aboard the beer bus, ladies and germs, ‘cos things are about to get rowdy (and, quite possibly very messy!)…
Tasked with getting this year’s party started in style are Leicester lunatics Hell’s Addiction, who are paying their first visit to this particular corner of the Über Kingdom: they describe themselves as purveyors of “kick ass, no bullshit rock n roll” – and that’s exactly what they deliver, their classic, sleazy groove sounding like AC/DC taking on Skid Row in a back alley knife fight, with the Crüe as referees. They also have plenty of bump and grind, which reminds, in a weird way, of early Def Leppard (before they turned into a pop band) – right down to vocalist Ben Sargent’s ‘High And Dry’-era Elliott leeriness.
There’s no pretensions about these lads: it’s straightforward, traditional party-time rock ‘n’f’n’ roll with a glunky undercurrent, delivered via tight, undramatic rhythms. However, the likes of ‘Time Has Come’ – like most of tonight’s set, from their recent ‘Broken’ album – shows that they’re not afraid to introduce small elements of modern trends, such as metalcore, into their sound, but not to the detriment of their overall hard rockin’ credentials and veracity.
Even with a new album just out, the boys show they’re always determined to push onwards, previewing a brand new song, ‘On The Road Again’ before slowing things down again for the album’s beautiful and bluesy title track, which shows off the depth of range that lies under Sargent’s gravelly delivery, as he truly draws out the emotion of the song.
Hell’s Addiction deliver just what is needed to start the evening off: high energy, dirty-yet-polished don’t give a shit party rock n roll that goes down just as well in the club/pub environment as no doubt it will at one of the 16 festival appearances they have already booked for 2017. With a new recording and distribution deal in the bag as well, the next 12 months should see this affable crew take themselves a few more positive steps forward along rock n roll’s rubble-strewn highway. I for one look forward to catching up with them sometime again in the not too distant future.
Trucker don’t need any introduction, but Tom does the niceties anyway (‘cos he’s a nice chap), and Simon doesn’t really need to ask “are you ready?” but again he does so anyway, being met with a massive cheer by way of response. And from hereon in it’s party central for the next hour or so. The Big Truck has rolled into town (well, the village, if you want to be pedantic), the beer is flowing in abundance…
Never a band to be ‘Running Scared’, they weave their ‘Voodoo’ spell while proving it’s ‘Never Too Late To Sin’, as they deliver the sort of deep throaty riffs that are capable of starting their own bar room brawl with a mere sideways glance. ‘Drive’ does just that, its riff hitting you straight in the solar plexus and a melody that has your foot tapping on the dance accelerator. I listen to dozens of songs every day, hundreds every week, thousands every year, and it is the infectious grooves and melodies that bands like Trucker produce that are the ones that not do I keep going back to but themselves continue to come back to me time and again: that’s the sign of great songs – they just grab you and stay with you… and Trucker have an Argos-sized lorry load of great songs.
Of course, it’s Christmas (allegedly), so there’s a few surprises. The first comes in the form of ‘Whiskey Woman’, which Tom starts to introduce as being from their first album before remembering it didn’t make the cut: “It’s the first song I ever wrote,” he recalls, adding that “I didn’t have a guitar, so I air-guitared it!” And the presents still keep coming, in the form of three new songs from their forthcoming Pledge-funded fourth album, starting with ‘Over The Wall’ then lead single ‘Fighting For Everything’ and ending with ‘Tearin’ Up The Road’ (which is no doubt is something they’ll return to doing once the album surfaces next year).
In between, the more recognizable anthems keep coming, from the iconic and self-explanatory ‘Drink Beer, Destroy’ through the emotional ‘Maybe You’re The One’ (and, yes, herself was seen to shed a small tear, in between knocking back tequila shots!) to the strident ‘We Stand Strong’. And there’s only one way they can finish, isn’t there? And, so they declare that ‘We’re Gonna Rock This Christmas’: even the smoke machines deciding not to work can’t dampen the enthusiasm of everyone concerned, with the obligatory stage invasion by a certain person with the initials DQ!
So, another great night at the Diamond, one of our favourite venues, and in the company of one of our favourite bands. But, to be honest, the party’s not quite over yet, as we’ve one more trip to make to the wilds of the Antrim hills before the year is out, and that’s to join our old friend Pat McManus and his band for the last gig of this particular rock ‘n’ calendar… See y’all on the other side.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © The Dark Queen / Uber Rock