REVIEW: Chuck Ragan – Voodoo, Belfast

chuckraganEnglish singer/songwriter Rob Lynch kicks off the evening to an ever increasing and receptive crowd.

Whilst his singing accent may put some people off, his well crafted songs, interspersed with funny anecdotes about dodgy encounters in a Dublin “eaterie” and the ensuing bus journey to Belfast.

Add to this a touching story about the meaning behind ‘Whiskey’ (drinking with his dying dad) ensure the crowd’s muted response at the start of the set transforms into a healthy round of applause by the end.

The, now occasional, frontman of punk legends Hot Water Music makes his long awaited return to Belfast, judging by this sold out show, following a couple of gigs in Dublin.

‘You Get What You Give’ is followed up by the opening two tracks from his most recent album. A stomping ‘Something May Catch Fire’ highlights the talents of the backing band, ‘The Cameraderie’ and for ‘Vagabond’ he is joined onstage by a starstruck Darren Hill, ably providing backing vocals and guitar.

Ragan introduces ‘Rotterdam’ by mentioning that the hardest part of touring is being away from those you love. Seemingly aware it’s been a long week of drinking for some of the audience, he appears humbled by the fact it’s a sold out midweek show.

New song ‘The Flame In The Flood’ keeps, most of, the audience captivated, after which the cap gets removed and the crowd get one of about six ‘thank yous’. A Cory Branan cover results in an enthusiastic reaction from and banter with an audience member.

The amazing band get chucked off the stage for a couple of solo numbers, return with ‘Bedroll Lullaby’, ‘Revved’ and ‘Right As Rain’, the crowd get thanked again and ‘The Boat’ and, set highlight, ‘California Burritos’ leaves us wondering if they will return.

Well they do a couple more tunes, with one last ‘thank you’ in between. ‘For Broken Ears’ from 2007’s Feast Or Famine album wraps the set up. An amazing, passionate set, Ragan has a wonderfully distinctive voice and his band ensure the music, as no doubt intended, sounds massive live. Ross Scott, GiggingNI.com