The Outcasts / The Sabrejets / Terri Hooley - live @ the Empire, Belfast 30/07/2011 - by Mully... (2)
(review copyright Mully)
This was the second warm-up gig of the much publicised NI Punk Legends, The Outcasts' reformation, before (easy) jetting off to play The Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool next weekend. For those of you local punksters who have been living in a cave over the past few weeks, the new line-up for the reformed band includes three 'original' Outcasts - brothers Greg and Martin Cowan (vocals and rhythm guitar respectively), Raymond Falls (drums) and now joined by ex-Stalag-ite and A-Political Petesy Burns (bass) and - standing in for Getty - ex Rudi and current Sabrejet, Brian Young (lead guitar). The previous night they performed in The Playhouse, Portrush - a packed and sweaty, sometimes shambolic, gig - ably supported by The Stiff Little Busker (Aidan D), The Defects and Runnin' Riot. Tonight though, in their first hometown gig for over two decades (not counting the three-track Greg's 50th birthday bash appearance), the support came from Belfast's own homegrown red-neck Rockabilly combo - The Sabrejets.
Promoting their newly released 'Sin-sational' CD, The Sabrejets kicked off, all guitars blazing, with the howlin' 'Lone Wolf Blues', followed by a clutch of their 'new' tracks including 'Cindy Ray', 'Dames' and 'Take It Easy Greasy'. As coincidence would have it, The Sabrejets have recorded an Outcast track - 'Seven Deadly Sins' - for inclusion on a new tribute to N.I. Punk, 'Time To Be Proud' CD, also appearing on their own latest release - and tonight we would be able to compare the evil-doing as they began the countdown from "having fun" to "being in Heaven". Interspersed between the latest releases were a handful of older crowd pleasers - Brian dedicating tracks to all the old punks, Brian Setzer and Johnny Thunders. As their set was approaching the end, and foregoing an encore slot, the band hit top gear with their Rockabilly take on The Ramones' 'Blitzkreig Bop' (dedicated to all those old enough to remember when there were more than one Ramone alive) - this always gets the crowd moving. Following it up, keeping the pace at breakneck speed, we get 'The Devil Drives A Cadillac' - a Bo Diddley induced guitar riff which you just can't stand still to. Penultimate track is the anthemic 'Too Fast To Live..' before closing with another crowd fave from back in the day, as Bobby Fuller's 'I Fought The Law' gets the greaser treatment, bringing an excellent set to a resounding round of applause. Personally, and this was echo-ed by a number of punters, I thought The Sabrejets were a tour de force tonight - altogether a great performance.
After a short break, Brian was retaking the stage, as the headliners came out from behind the mother off all speaker amps. Introduced by their once upon a time long-suffering manager, the interminable Terri 'Hooleygan' Hooley, The Outcasts began their set with 'Nowhere Left To Run', one off their latter day singles, to a rapturous audience response and followed up with a powerful - more OK than-a boo-hoo - version of The Stooges' '1969' (their last single release in '85). The last time I witnessed The Outcasts in concert (Greg's birthday not included) was way back in 1981 when they had the double drumming of Colin Cowan (R.I.P.) and Raymond - but tonight they felt even more forceful. With Petesy now on bass (hand-jiving notwithstanding) it allows Greg to concentrate solely on vocals, suffering somewhat from last nights' exertions (but not too much) and striking those all important poses, although I think tonight's stage was a bit too small for some of the tricks he tried to pull off with the microphone stand. Inbetween Martin tuning-up and Greg's inter-song banter with the crowd, the band continued the blood and thunder attack - 'Winter', 'Frustration' and 'Mania' - were all pummeling us into submission. The introduction of some off the old It and Good Vibration singles - 'You're A Disease', 'Self Conscious Over You' and 'Teenage Rebel' - got the ageing punksters singing along and pogo-ing until the onset of a premature cardiac arrest meant a trip back to prop up the bar. 'Seven Deadly Sins' did return to give the audience a deja-vu moment - but in contrast this was a faster and heavier run through of the song.
The set-list cleverly produced a cross-section of the band's work from first to last singles, incorporating all the classics, but also introducing favourite album tracks and even allowing a slot for the unreleased (studio-wise) 'Ghetto Blaster' - a live version is available on the 'Vive Lyon' CD. It even allowed the inclusion of The Outcasts' punk version of 'Ruby'!! It was overall a subtle selection and provided something for everyone (although why no 'Angel Face'?). The highlights were definitely the early material, however a stunning version of 'Magnum Force' stood out - Martin's punky reggae party piece with, as we were informed graciously by Greg - the bass line composed by ex-Stage B singer Charlie Reilly - "and he isn't going to let him forget it". Finishing with the punk thrashings off 'The Cops Are Coming' and 'I Don't Wanna Be An Adult' they too by-passed the encore rites leaving a sated crowd to discuss the night's entertainment.