Urban Voodoo Machine - live @ Chilli Fest, Custom House Square, Belfast 25/06/2011
Review and photos copyright - Joe Donnelly
Fridays torrential downpours stayed away thank god , Saturday was all grey, overcast skies and extremely dull. It was very humid and sticky, but it was only going to get even hotter (and I'm not just talking about the chilli peppers).
There was the hard to ignore tallest punk on stilts with the longest pair of tartan bondage trousers I've ever seen ,aswell as various tattoo style devil women strolling around the site . And what about 'the Doctor' (obviously not a real physician) getting a flower extracted with a bull whip firstly from his mouth then from his tightly clenched butt cheeks, I didn't think he would've dropped his strides in public and show his arse, but he did! lol.
We had already recieved a super strong live shot of 'bourbon soaked gypsy bop and stroll' courtesy of the one and only 'Urban Voodoo Machine' (London) and the puke inducing chilli eating contest was yet to come.
I'm very familiar with 'the UVM' records but for whatever reason this was my first live exposure, I have no excuse as they have played in Belfast (rock city) a number of times previously. Though I missed their last gig here at the 'Mandela hall' only a couple of months back due to work commitments , I was delighted to see them back in town so soon after as I could now get to play catch up . This appearance is the first of two shows they will be performing this weekend in NI, with the other being a festival to mark the opening of the brand new 'Peace Bridge' in 'Derry'.
'The UVM' have been around in one flexibile form or another since 2003 and are currently touring to promote the infectious groove of their well worth checking out latest album 'In black and red',and there was 10 of them onstage here today! I think its unfair to call a 'UVM' performance a gig as normally the musical side would be accompanied by a variety of side show attractions to enhance the over-all experience. Various eclectic elements from a scarey circus / carnival / punk rock / psychorockabilly review/ old spaghetti western medicine show / cabaret / vaudeville topped off with the bands own eastern european and beyond musical influences, is all thrown into the wild mix of this mad mash up, but amazingly it all falls into place and works really well.
Theres a lot going on and always with a drink at the ready!
Yeah! the band cover similar ground to the 1980s 'Les Negresses Vertes' and the 2000s 'Gogol Bordello' but the difference for me is that 'the UVM' have an inspired cutting edge about them that both the other bands mentioned didn't / don't.
And so onto the large stage they sauntered in regulation red & black (and one green face) with a 'look at us cool as f***' attitude, then the band members lined up across the stage backs to the now quite large but all ages audience facing the drummer 'Jary'. The president of r'n'r ' P-R Angel' with his right arm held aloft resembled some dark evil twin of a glam rock era 'Glitter band' member. It was now showtime and they kicked off the proceedings as always with a rowdy rendition of 'Theme from the UVM ,the set was packed with highlights for me 'Cheers for the tears' / 'Rather you shoot me down' / 'Off to rehab' / 'Go East' / 'Goodbye to another year' etc etc etc etc ...........
All killer , no filler.
Today it was a stripped down back to basics singalonga family friendly out-doors show and I can now appreciate the modern day 'SAHB' comparrisons that are being bandied about in the music press.
A real highlight of this day or any other for that matter was meeting one of my favourite frontmen ever 'Nick Marsh', I was one of his old band 'Flesh for Lulu's' biggest fans ('Subterraneans' what a 45!). I wasn't going to approach him as you should never really meet your heroes as theres a pretty good chance you're going to be disappointed (as I have been in the past). But he was standing only a few feet away from me after 'the UVM' set had finished having a well deserved drink or six while watching the chilli eating contest ,so I just thought what the hell & and I went over ,and do you know what he was a really down to earth nice guy.We nattered for a while about this that and the other including a certain legendary London glam / goth nitespot we both attended in the early 80s , the memory gave both of us a giggle . He signed a setlist for me and we shook hands , it was a real pleasure to meet him.
And its goodnight from us.........
It was a superb show & the audience who were a bit subdued at first gave the band a rousing send off , have to say I absolutely loved it . I'm hoping it won't be too long before 'The Urban Voodoo Machine' make yet another return visit to Belfast ,next time bringing the whole 'Gypsy hotel' entourage with them for a real full on night of their own unique special brand of entertainment .
It was an excellent day thanks to the organisers ,the acts & the big crowd who turned out to support this years event .There was a no hassle ,it was all very laid back with an extremely chilled out vibe. Looking forward to 'Chilli Fest 2012' already .
Joe Donnelly Belfast 27.6.11.
'Urban Voodoo Machine'
Belfast & Derry June 2011.
Theme from the UVM
Cheers for the tears
Train wreck blues
Lightening from a blues sky
Rather you shoot me down
Run for the money
Off to rehab
Goodbye to another year