© Jimmy Little Junior
Photos by Jimmy Little Junior
Live Gig Review by Phil Bailie (Contributor/Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine
On a bitterly cold winter’s night in Belfast, rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasts made their way to Belfast’s Limelight to be treated by Mr. Elliott’s rabble-rousing band of rockers in the form of the Down ‘n’ Outz. Joe Elliott has made no secret of the influence that Mott the Hoople has had on his musical career and this new bunch of like-minded musicians, primarily from The Quireboys, are a means of reviving those 70s beauties in a somewhat refreshing manner.
Coming in out of the cold, it was the job of Joe Elliott’s latest patronage Vega to warm the ever-growing crowd. For me, Vega are an absolute powerhouse within the melodic rock niche and, unfortunately, their fantastic opener ‘Kiss of Life’ was met with a rather diminished crowd. A pet hate, it has to be said, is the neglecting of warm up acts in this country. When we are fortunate enough to have gems like Vega make appearances in our city, we need to make the effort. I promise you, this band deserves that much!
Despite this, however, the effervescent Nick Workman did his level best to get the crowd going from the off. ‘Kiss of Life’ would have certainly resuscitated any of those dead frames caught staring into their pints. This song is simply a statement of intent. Nick, with those impressive pipes of his, is aggressive in his approach to smashing through those high notes.
Following this, Vega pushed on with songs from their impressive new album ‘Stereo Messiah’ with their version of Lepp’s ’10 X Bigger Than Love’ (which guests Joe Elliott on the album) and the incredibly catchy ‘Gonna Need Some Love Tonight’. The solo from Marcus Thurston on several of the tracks had me asking people if he was, in fact, the offspring of Neal Schon in both appearance and execution. ‘Gonna Need Some Love Tonight’ actually featured what Nick Workman referred to as “one of those clever stops that bands do” right before the last chorus. Very effective indeed, Nick.
The band finished off their set in a typically confident manner with 2013’s peach ‘White Knuckle Ride’ and got the crowd onside at the very end for ‘Hands In The Air’. What was particularly refreshing about Vega was how they managed to marry those impressive harmonies with the hard-rock chorus hooks and screaming solos. Even the prevalence of the oft-forgotten keyboards had a telling effect on the delivery of the set. There is a very delicate, and refreshingly sensible, balance here.
In this instance, Vega were a warm up band. They did their job and more. The merchandise corner was testament to that. They continue their steady and well-deserved rise on the melodic rock scene and, with any luck, they started a fire in Belfast that will leave us eagerly awaiting their return.
Nick Workman – Vocals
Tom Martin – Bass
James Martin – Keyboards
Dan Chantrey – Drums
Marcus Thurston – Guitar
John Mitchell – Guitar
Kiss of Life
Gonna Need Some Love Tonight
What the Hell
All Or Nothing
Wherever We Are
White Knuckle Ride
10 X Bigger Than Love
The Wild, The Weird, The Wonderful
Hands In The Air
Down ‘n’ Outz
Now, onto the little matter of one Mr. Joe Elliott. Even without the flu that has been plaguing him on this recent tour, Joe cannot hit the notes of yesteryear. He won’t be climbing to reach that note at the end of ‘Promises’. Having said this, Joe Elliott playing in a club as small as Belfast’s Limelight is incredibly humbling. This man has done it all in terms of rock and roll but has not lost sight of what is important. He retains that love of music. So much so, that his Down ‘n’ Outz are on a mission to reinvigorate those old Mott songs that were so important in the construction of his own musical legacy.
With a rather unorthodox start to a gig (certainly in my experience), Elliott took a seat at the piano as the band kicked off with a lengthy instrumental intro, leading into the infectious ‘Love Lies Bleeding’. Feet were soon tapping and heads bobbing as the band, suitably warmed up, began getting into full swing.
Stepping away from the piano, Elliott switched to guitar for British Lions’ cover ‘One More Chance To Run’ before plunging into a fantastic rendition of ‘Rock and Roll Queen’ that had the crowd licking their lips and raising their fists.
On a night of lookalikes, The Quireboys’ Paul Guerin was doing a certain John Sykes no disservice at all in delivering a sterling performance on lead guitar. The solos were effective, aggressive and eloquent all at the same time, particularly in the band’s superb rendition of ‘The Journey’. Similarly, a lot must be said for Vixen bassist Share Ross who demonstrated an enviable and effortless style of bass playing that just resonated cool throughout. Guy Griffin and Phil Martini rounded off the rhythm and guitar sections impressively and professionally.
A rather touching moment of the night came when Elliott made mention of Vivian Campbell’s heartfelt hello to the people of Belfast, referring to them as “my people”. The song ‘Whizz Kid’ was then dedicated to Vivian in suitable style.
The final jewel in the crown was, for sure, the altering of the Ian Hunter classic ‘England Rocks’ to ‘Belfast Rocks’ during the encore. When given the chance, yes, we do like to partake in our fair share of rocking, it has to be said.
It can be strange to see this form of idolisation come from one of rock’s very own success stories but, in many ways, Joe was our guide on this journey through the Ian Hunter and Mott back catalogues and, for all intents and purposes, his Down ‘n’ Outz did a fantastic job of bringing some old, and perhaps even forgotten, classics back to life.
A fantastic night all round. Bravo.
Joe Elliott – Vocals / Guitar / Keyboards
Paul Guerin – Guitar
Guy Griffin – Guitar
Share Ross – Bass
Phil Martini – Drums
Keith Weir – Keyboards
Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding
One More Chance To Run
Rock And Roll Queen
One Of The Boys
Standing And Pointing
Who Do You Love
Crash Street Kids