Review: Negative Creeps – The Empire Music Hall, Belfast

Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain would have celebrated his 50th birthday 20th February 2017. The same year marks 25 years since Nirvana played for the first and last time in Belfast’s Kings Hall. To commemorate these milestones and celebrate the legacy of the man and band, Negative Creeps brought Nirvana’s music back to Belfast for a night of nostalgia and squealing guitar feedback.

Dundalk band Podracer open the show tonight. It could be daunting playing to a room packed full of fans of the iconic 90’s band who have come to sing along to the songs they know so well. Podracer however seem to take it in their stride playing hard and fast to a crowd who can’t help but take notice as they are figuratively punched in the gut.

Podracer - Negative Creeps - Empire Hall, Belfast

That is not to say Podracer’s set is one dimensional. “Vulpes” shows how tight the band are as they confidently move from heavy riffs to a sonic break down with melodic vocals. The band play songs from their debut “Parking Cars & Pumping Gas” and tease several new tracks which they are currently recording for their next effort. If tonight is anything to go by, it will be one to watch out for.

Negative Creeps come across as a tribute band who are in it for all the right reasons; like everyone here tonight they are huge fans.  They steer clear of oftentimes cheesy mimicry and just play the songs they love, interacting with the crowd as Nirvana fans as opposed to Nirvana wannabes.

Negative Creeps - Empire Hall, Belfast

Coming onstage to a fitting barrage of feedback, Negative Creeps launch into Breed before powering their way through what is a perfect set list. Not content to just play the hits, the band delve into deeper cuts such as “School”, “Turnaround” and “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”. I use the phrase “deeper cuts” loosely as it seems everyone here tonight knows all of the bands back catalogue word and note perfect.

While this makes for glorious sing along and air drumming, it also means that when the band make the smallest mistake it is noticeable without hyper analysis. It is a universal fact that Dave Grohl is a complete monster behind the drum kit making him a hard man to imitate. There are some sloppy moments during “In Bloom” where Negative Creeps drummer just cannot quite fill Grohl’s shoes, dragging the pace of the song down at times. Nonetheless, minor issues aside, they pull it back with tone perfect guitar and bass throughout. Equally, it does nothing to subside the energy in the room as the crowd sing along at maximum volume.

Negative Creeps - Empire Hall, Belfast

Unsurprisingly tracks such as “Come As You Are” and “Lithium” get huge crowd reactions but everyone has their personal favourite Nirvana song. At some point during the opening chords of every song played tonight there is a cheer from a different part of the room and a camera phone is suddenly thrust in the air. The floor begins to bounce and mosh during “Aneurysm” and does not stop until the third and final song of the encore.

As the infamous opening riff for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” rings out, the venue is in pandemonium.  The night finishes with stage diving and is bookended by more feedback. On the eve of Cobain’s 50th birthday it is apparent that there is no chance of his legacy ever fading away.

Scroll through our photo gallery, by Adrian Knight, below:

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