The Outcasts / The Sabrejets / Terri Hooley @ the Empire, Belfast 30/07/2011....(1)
(review & photos copyright Joe Donnelly)
'Pick of the pops' was on BBC Radio 2 yesterday afternoon hosted by the cheesy as ever, and surprisingly still alive, ancient dj 'Tony Blackburn' - and this weekend of all weekends the programme was covering the top 20 of this very week in 1979. A magnificent year and hearing all those old tunes brought into sharp perspective just how many years have actually passed by since 'The Outcasts' were a vital band within the punk scene I was part off and it depressed me a bit . I did consider giving the gig a miss because of this low, but you'll be glad to know after a few moments of reflection and a bit of f*** it attitude, I was soon back to my normal timewarped state of mind and I already had my new TRex 'Slider' tshirt & my brothel creepers ready to go.
Talking of ancient dj's 'Terri Hooley' was master of ceremonies here tonight as well as controlling the decks. He played a great selection of punk , ska ,reggae tunes with a little 'Nouvelle Vague' thrown in for good measure.
This particular 'Outcasts Are Back' show was one I thought I'd never see ,and if the truth be told I haven't exactly been waiting with baited breath for the past three decades on it happening. Now, if it had been a 'Rudi' gig that would've been a different story entirely. I was never that big a fan of 'The Outcasts 'in their heyday and I'm still not, plus those new 2011 just published "we're still mean & moody" press shots are scarey, but for all the wrong reasons. These three comeback (of sorts) gigs minus original guitarist 'Colin (Getty) Gettgood' are the result of an offer too good to refuse from the people behind the 'Rebellion festival', yeah! So what if it can be seen as $hame Academy +2 (as I've heard this reformation called by certain people on more than one ocassion) because I saw this line up provide the entertainment at 'Greg Cowans' ulp! 50th birthday party a year ago and for such a short notice knee's up they were actually pretty damn good . The setlist that night made up of 'Outcasts' standards mixed with a number of punk 45 classics was brilliant craic, but tonight it was going to be balls to the wall vintage marmite (you love it or hate it) Belfast punk rock . So would it be just as appealing without the previous tried and tested juxtaposition?. I don't know!. The bands line up then was Greg Cowan (vocals) , Martin Cowan (rhythm guitar), Raymond Falls ( drums) plus honorary 'Outcasts' Brian Young (lead Guitar) & Petesy Burns (bass),and thats the same onstage personel due here tonight.
The more observant of you may have already spotted that ex 'Rudi' & 'Sabrejets' frontman 'Brian Young' is doing a double shift here tonight , being both a supporting & headlining band member. Special guests, Belfasts own greaser kings, 'The Sabrejets' could've easily filled 'The Empire' on their own such is their high position in the modern day rockabilly pecking order , and with a new five star album 'Sinsational' just released, they're taking care of business in fine style. Along with 'Big Phil the Bear' as their head of merchandising how could they fail lol. Tonight 'The Sabrejets' were on their usual top form , the band have been together too long now for any messing around . They have a complete deck of rockin songs to their credit like Too Fast To Live / I Dig Dames / Wild For Kicks / Sworn To Fun etc etc etc & their reworked covers of Blitzkrieg Bop & I Fought The Law had the whole place punching the air & singing along, while they displayed a level of showmanship sharpened like a switchblade razors edge by years of constant road-dog gigging, performing in a class way above the level of most bands treading the boards both locally and, thanks to todays technology, globally . Somebody in 'The Outcasts' camp obviously made a faux pas and forgot how good they are live because this was probably the best 'Sabrejets' show I've seen - they were onfire. "Not what you want from your support act on an important night like this".
Even though I'd been making enquiries, little news had been forthcoming from anyone concerning the previous nights way more hardcore punky bill ( Stiff Little Busker , Running Riot ,The Defects & The Outcasts) at the 'Playhouse' in the seaside town of 'Portrush' - other than it was a good night & the venue was very hot. Slim pickings on the actual band performances info front, which I found strange after all the hype leading up to the show. The ante was now raised extremely high (as if the pressure of a comeback wasn't a big enough of a headf*** already), so could 'The Outcasts' 2011 step up to the mark and face the challenge ahead ?.
Surprisingly the answer is yes! ,they gave it their all and they were actually very good indeed. Greg was revelling in his position as frontman , throwing Iggy shapes wrapped around his mic and posing for the photographers with the Cowan pout & wit being used to full effect . The other band members didn't put a foot wrong - they were note perfect, diciplined and well drilled throughout the 18 song setlist - consisting of everything you'd want to hear played live at an 'Outcasts' show like 'Nowhere left to run, Mania, Ghetto Blaster, You're a disease ,Teenage Rebel, 7 deadly sins (so good both bands played it)etc etc etc. Funniest moment of the night was during 'Cops' when a rather, shall we say XXL, guy's glasses fell off and all the potential heart attacks leaping around stopped, so they could search for them. In the old days the punks would've trampled all over that guy and his glasses without mercy. I think they really needed a breather and this was the perfect excuse to get their blood pressure back down, lol.
It was a great night. 'The Outcasts' lived up to their status & did the legend justice. Unfortunately for the band they chose 'The Sabrejets' as the opening act and they stole their show, and with it sadly 'The Outcasts' moment of hometown glory & triumph. They'll still be one of the main draws though at 'Rebellion 2011' next weekend regardless and rightly so. Don't miss them - it might be your one & only chance!
Off to see 'The Stranglers' next Saturday night @ Feile an Phobail.
Joe Donnelly 31/07/2011