Gasoline Outlaws/Baleful Creed/St Hellfire - Belfast, King’s Head - 12th February 2015 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby   
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 04:00

Situated on the southern edge of Belfast, opposite the massive King’s Hall complex and just before you hit what can truly be called this city’s suburbia, the King’s Head is a seemingly unlikely but popular and attractive location for live gigs, with its well-appointed ‘Live Lounge’ putting some more centrally located venues to shame. It had been too long since Team Uber Rock had darkened its door, so on this chilly Thursday evening we sallied thereto to catch the much anticipated hometown debut of one of the most talked about new acts on the local scene…


Local singer-songwriter Stef Murray opens proceedings with an equally well appointed set of original material and covers, the highlights being (yet another reworked) ‘Silver And Gold’ and a poignant rendition of ‘3AM’, before which he takes great relish in relating how he actually played it in front of members of Matchbox Twenty. It may seem a somewhat innocuous start, considering the rest of the bill, but he nevertheless sets the mood nicely and breaks us in gently.


St Hellfire 2St Hellfire, on the other hand, live up to their name, coming out all guns blazing with their punk-edged hard-ass don’t-give-a-shit rock ‘n’ roll. Fronted by the lanky and charismatic Mark Fanjo – a man one of whose trademarks is the price tag still hanging from the neck of his guitar – and underpinned with thrumming bass lines, their sound throbs and pulsates like an unsatiated 4am erection, and the likes of ‘Drowning In A Dream’ definitely gets tits (of both genders) wobbling all around the room. The career-prophesising ‘Pornstar Rockstar’ is suitably spunky and cheeky, ‘Black Skies’ has a surprisingly dark edge to it and closer ‘Maserati’ is as fast and ugly as its title.


Baleful Creed deliver deep, doomy blues packed with grunt and growl. The new rhythm section have settled in quickly and prove solid reliable, and the demeanour of this re-incarnated line up is characterized by the dark and foreboding yet anthemic ‘Autumn Leaves’, the dense, thumping undercurrent of which hints at the huge, redemptive power of rebirth. ‘Suffer In Silence’ is elegiac, with similarly dark background feel, while the absolutely huge ‘Forgiven’ shrieks and sweeps around the venue like a banshee awoken from a restless sleep.


Gasoline Outlaws 1As mentioned at the top of this review, the Belfast debut of the Gasoline Outlaws (they had made their first live appearance a few weeks beforehand at the legendary Diamond Rock Club, making such an impact that they had sold out of T shirts within moments of quitting the stage) was one of the most anticipated occasions of the year to date. And, boy, do they make an equally impressive impression this evening. Rumbling over the darkened horizon with the ferocity of Mad Max on a diesel fix, it is clear right from the start that these particular Outlaws are here to steal, rape and pillage our hardened rawk ‘n’f’n’ roll hearts…


Matt Fitzsimons’ gravelly vocals counterpoint the dark crunch of his brother Chris’ bass lines and the mean and dirty groove of Adam Parkin’s lead guitar. The songs are thoughtfully crafted for maximum impact, with an early highlight being the hard and gritty ‘Ready To Fly’ – something this young but well-experienced (Matt previously fronted Black Freeway – who also featured Chris – and Last Known Addiction, Parkin is a former member of the now defunct Yellow Sam and drummer Adam Callaghan also is in local classic rock veterans Pay*ola, and is obviously relishing playing this slightly harder edged material. Matt is most definitely enjoying being in front of a band again, as is appropriately predatory on ‘Shrouded Wolves’, as the song snaps and snarls, biting at not your ankles or just your ear drums but your very heart and soul – something which the song of the same name (‘Heart And Soul’, that is, for those of you not paying attention) epitomizes, especially in its sharp, plucked bass line, a technique which I always feel adds a warmth, depth and richness to any band’s sound.   ‘Outlaws’ brings the set to a suitably rowdy finale – but it’s not over yet, as the band face a dilemma: I mean, just what do you do when you’re a new band, you’ve played all your songs and the audience is clamouring for more? Well, you just reprise one from earlier in the night, in this case ‘Shrouded Wolves’: fuck, they four lads could have played their whole damn set all over again – and probably even again after that – and they still would have had us all eating out of their hands… Yes, they’re that darn good!


Photograph of St Hellfire by Carolyn McGimspey

Photograph of Gasoline Outlaws by the author