Diamond Head – Belfast, Voodoo – 24 November 2017 Print
Written by Mark Ashby and The Dark Queen   
Friday, 01 December 2017 04:20

It was the start of a busy weekend here at URHQ, with three gigs in as many nights (but, hey, that’s rock ‘n’ roll, and they wouldn’t have it any other way…), but it didn’t look things were getting off to a great start.


First of all, Brian Tatler informed us that Diamond Head frontman Rasmus Bom Andersen was suffering from a massive chest infection: and, as he walked through the downstairs bar shortly before the doors opened, he did not look a well man at all… Then, Stormzone singer John ‘Harv’ Harbinson informed us that he, too, was suffering from a dose of the dreaded lurgy!  FFS!  But, then, these aren’t any pansy-assed pop divas who run and hide at the merest hint of a siffle:  no, these are rock ‘n’ rollers who suck it up and prove that the show, indeed, must go on…


Stormzone 1


And so it does, as Stormzone sound their rousing call to arms as they declare that this stage, and this moment in time, are ‘Where We Belong’, complete with plenty of fists pumping in the air (and that’s just the band’s tightly choreographed ones!).  With Harv determined to “give everything for you”, they take a walk on ‘Another Rainy Night’ before bowing at the feet of the ‘Three Kings’ (which the frontman mistakenly introduces as the title track of their third album).


After Jonny Millar – on loan from Maverick, in a reciprocating gesture to SZ guitarist Steve Moore filling in on their recent shows – totally nails the intro to ‘The Pass Loning’, proving once again what a fantastic drummer he truly is, Harv pays tribute to the generosity of tonight’s headliners, pointing out that the DH lads had taken one look at their drum kit and promptly moved all of their equipment so that it, and the band, could fit comfortably onto the otherwise tiny stage: “what a legendary attitude” he remarks – the contrast to their treatment at the hands of a certain Canadian singer they supported a few years back probably quite prominent in his thoughts!


Stormzone 6


A quick brush with the ‘Death Dealer’ and an impromptu drum solo from young Jonathan and it’s time to prove that ‘The Legend Carries On’ as they bring the curtain down, and least figuratively, on another solid and entertaining performance, and one which epitomizes the spirit of the night – of which there is even more to come, with one of the most determined and inspiring performances we have seen in quite some time…


Right from the off, and despite an atrocious vocal mix trying to cover up the fact, it is painfully clear that Andersen is struggling, as, between verses, he is coughing and struggling for air: the amount of smoke being pumped onto the stage probably isn’t helping him much, either.  He’s visibly living on ‘Borrowed Time’, as the notes are coming out as croaks:  there are a few confused looks as to what is going on, but Ras quickly shares his pain, admitting that he came extremely close to cancelling the show but is prepared to soldier on if “you guys sing with and for me, because I have no voice” and promising to “try to scream without wrecking my voice for life”.


Diamond Head 4


To be honest, I don’t think one single person in this crowd would have complained if he had, in fact, walked off the stage at this point, but, as it is, each and every one responds, respecting his determination to carry on – and he does just that, for more than another hour.  Although having given up trying to hit the high notes by the time the set reaches ‘In The Heat Of The Night’, the audience reaction gives him the energy to carry on and, if anything, his voice seems to get stronger as he’s carried along on that wave of enthusiasm.


The set is very much based on DH’s classic repertoire, with only ‘Bones’ and ‘Diamonds’ interrupting a jukebox selection that sees ‘Lightning To The Nations’, ‘Sucking My Love’, ‘Shoot Out The Lights’, ‘Sweet And Innocent’, ‘It’s Electric’ and ‘Helpless’ all keeping the momentum going… and then comes that staccato snare and that doomy bass-driven riff as Ras asks “Belfast – how evil are you?” The response is so loud that the singer barely needs to do his job, as the words echo from nearly every open mouth in the room.  But, it’s not over yet, as they return for an unexpected, at least in the circumstances, walk along those ‘Streets Of Gold’ before what must have been a taxing set for the singer is finally brought to close after 70 minutes of onstage action.


Diamond 5


Whether Ras was running on pure adrenaline or dogged dedication (or whiskey), this was a stunningly professional performance from a musician determined not to let down those who had paid their hard-earned money to see him do his job.  He sought no apology or sympathy for his situation, just brought a sheer bloody-minded positive attitude, displaying the commitment of all concerned, and especially the singer, to overcome adversity and deliver, on every level.  For that reason alone, this most definitely will be a strong contender when I come to compile my “gigs of the year” in the not too distant future.


Diamond Head play La Belle Angele in Edinburgh tonight (Friday 1 December) and the Hard Rock Hell NWOBHM festival at the O2 Academy in Sheffield tomorrow (Saturday 2 December) and then the following dates next week:


Wednesday 6 – London, O2 Academy Islington

Thursday 7 – Bilston, The Robin

Friday 8 – Southampton, The 1865

Saturday 9 – Kuurne (Belgium), Blast From The Past Festival




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