REVIEW: Redbeard presents No Matter – The Bar with No Name, Belfast

redbeard2Saturday 25th April saw the latest in a string of RedBeard Promotions gigs hosted by The Bar With No Name.

The focus of the night was punk rock in all its diversity; Bands with punk rock energy, Oi!, and pop-punk, tonight covered it all.

Tyrannasonic Deaf Rays start the night off in a blaze of screaming feedback. The band are somewhat new to Belfast audiences but despite the relatively small crowd which persists for the rest of the night, they set out as if on an assault. Their sound is upbeat and their energy high-octane. Guitarist Neil Cromie makes up for the lack of audience by ditching the stage in favour of the floor as the band launch into “Jigsaw”. By the close of their set he ends up here once more only this time joined by bassist Ronan Rogers, who impressively clears a set of monitors, pink bass in tow. The two bounce off each other, seeming to egg the other on making for an exciting visual as well as musical performance.

Takers & Users mark a change in tone for the night. Their sound is more aggressive than what has gone before them. Appropriately rough vocal performances are flourished with intricate riffs which at times have a rock’n’roll feel. This underlying vibe is particularly apparent in a track which guitarist Kerr jokingly assures the crowd is a new one. Within a few songs, people are rolling around the floor and fists are in the air. As their set draws to a close, Darzo gestures to the giant mural of Colin McQuillan which dominates the venue’s wall. Their final song of the night, a Runnin’ Riot cover, is a tribute to him. The band are joined impromptu on stage by two fans who add backing vocals to the punchy chorus of “Judge, Jury and Executioner”.

The musical tone is shifted yet again as Eighty Four take to the stage. Their sound is more in line with the opening band – energetic and loud. They play a Green Day cover (“Who Wrote Holden Caufield?”) and have what is possibly the nicest bass tone I have ever heard. And by nicest I mean dirty and badass. For those reasons alone, I’m hooked. This coupled with subtle guitar riffs and some of the hardest hitting drumming I have ever heard make for a monumental sound. Practically every song in their set features a catchy chorus and riff. Singer/bassist Darren Brown makes attempts to get the crowd going ahead of No Matter but to little avail. Perhaps the audience were too busy taking it all in to have the time to dance. Eighty Four play fast and with an infectious vigour.

Headline act No Matter are fresh from a Dublin gig the preceding night. They open their set with the infectious “Postpone” which showcases some exceptional harmonies. Singer/guitarist Dan quips about low energy levels before passing vocal duties over to Cat for “Too Bad”. If the band are tired, it does not show. “Hateful” opens with a riff which sounds like it has been taken straight from Green Day’s 1995 album Insomniac. While the title and lyrics seem to suggest otherwise, it is particularly upbeat; simultaneously seething and fun, everything you want from a great pop-punk tune. With an abundance of on stage attitude the band run one track into the next flawlessly. To say No Matter are tight would be an understatement.

At points Dan and Jarlath’s guitar playing appears as almost mirroring each other. Meanwhile Cat and drummer Jamie bring the rhythm sections up to near breakneck speeds. And yet it all seems effortless – testimony to their musical talents. Between songs there is a near constant banter with the crowd. As Dan gives shout outs to all the other bands, Jarlath butts in with a tongue in cheek thanks to “Blink 1-84”. As No Matter’s set draws to a close, they launch into the angsty “Sick”, a particular highlight. Like previous song, “Hateful” it too has a wonderful disparity between lyrics and sound. “Sick” is a track any good pop-punk band would be proud to have penned. Yet tonight, No Matter have proven themselves to be more than just a good pop-punk band.

The crowd may have been quite small but the sound and energy exuded from the stage in The Bar With No Name tonight was not. While each band drew on different elements of punk rock, what unified them was an overwhelming sense of energy and passion for their music. Laura Shields, GiggingNI.com