REVIEW: Corrosion of Conformity – Limelight, Belfast

DSC_1824“I know you’ve been drinking all day,” frontman Pepper Keenan begins, “So have I.”

Whether you have or not, it’s clear from the outset that they’re here to enjoy themselves. Not a minute late and striding across the Limelight’s stage to Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back in Town, there’s an infectious bounce about the imposing four.

North Carolina-born C.O.C. tick all the boxes of the archetypal southern sludge band. But then, their career exceeds two decades. They’ve had their share of ups-and-downs, however, which Keenan readily admits – “It’s been too long,” he says, “We’re starting to get our shit together again.”

To say they started with a bang would be like comparing an apocalyptic thunderclap to a fart in the wind. These Shrouded Temples is out to make your ears bleed. Listen very closely and you can almost hear Ozzy wailing throughout. It’s really very good, this seismic overture, and does well to warm the head-bobbers’ necks for a night of relentless use.

Broken Man gets the show moving as their second song. It’s a wonder that any voice should cut through such a seemingly impervious wall of distortion, but Pepper’s is agile while without compromise to power (a nod also to the engineers for their contributions). As a Deliverance ‘revival’ the album’s songs are unsurprisingly prominent. Seven Days is groove-heavy and huge; is the climactic track. There’s a healthy helping from 1996’s Wiseblood also, with only a choice few from subsequent releases.


The energy of the first half is unyielding. Pace slows a little during the latter. There’s the odd tightness issue, but these are transient in nature and at no point does the band’s devotion to the songs falter. It’s good to see they haven’t lost touch with their music, bearing in mind that its majority is twenty years-old. They aren’t presenting the audience with facsimiles here, but the music as they wrote it – as it was intended to be played. An ear-to-ear smile doesn’t once leave Woody Weatherman’s face.

Come the encore they can’t help but indulge in some Thin Lizzy and, as Woody and Mullin vacate the stage, they enlist a couple of friends to play through Thunder and Lightning. Closing the night with a super-extended version of Clean My Wounds, they seem genuinely disinclined to leave the stage.

Corrosion of Conformity are masters in big grit-rock choruses and the audience are with them on every word. The Limelight is filled impressively for a mid-month Monday, its crowd awash with C.O.C. merchandise. The band aren’t hastily attracting fresh followers. But they know that, or so I think. It is a ‘revival’ after all, and these are dedicated fans. Deserving of the praise they receive and humble in its taking, there’s passion here that many bands could still stand to learn from. Calum McGeown, GiggingNI.com