It’s a night of nostalgia as two metal bands make their long-awaited return to Belfast having first set foot in the city over ten years ago.
Having performed here in 2006, months before their eventual hiatus, Sikth have had a cult-like following in Belfast for well over a decade. Inspiring many local bands and often adorning the chest of local musicians, Sikth’s inevitable return had been greatly anticipated but a teasing forty minute set and an ‘insulting’ support slot to Trivium deterred many from revisiting the tech-metal pioneers.It’s a shame though as Sikth appear as keen as ever to impress the lifelong fans as well as the Trivium faithful. As a band known for their progressive and technical musicianship, being a guitarist down didn’t seem to hinder the musical efforts on stage.
Showcasing a set of their finest material from debut The Trees Are Dead and Dried Out Wait For Something Wild and follow up Death of a Dead Day, new vocalist Joe Rosser stepped up to the mantle in fine form with the rapport between himself and fellow vocalist Mikee Goodman slowing taking shape. Sadly those interested in the activities on stage seemed to be in the minority despite Mikee’s constant efforts to engage the clock watching Trivium fans. Nonetheless, the undeterred quintet saw out their set with sophomore album opener, ‘Bland Street Bloom’, a nostalgic throwback with as much relevance and passion as ever.
Now it was time for the real reason the Limelight was packed to capacity at 10.30pm on a Sunday night; metal goliaths Trivium. Playing an intimate show compared to many other venues on this tour, it’s no surprise the date sold out well in advance. As the lights went down and Run To The Hills boomed through the room, everyone got a seven-minute warning to get their final orders in. Just as they did on their very first trip to Belfast in September 2005, Trivium kicked the night off with Ascendancy‘s opening tracks ‘The End Of Everything’ and ‘Rain’.
The night took on a career spanning set of material with at least one track from their seven studio albums featuring in the sixteen song strong setlist. Although only the second date on the tour, the band seemed to find their form almost immediately. A confident and commanding performance was visible from the front three with recently recruited and former Battlecross drummer Alex Bent finding his feet on just his second show with the band.
Despite having vocal issues in the past, frontman Matt Heafy seems to have tailored the perfect vocal distribution by allowing guitarist Corey Beaulieu to contribute to the lower growls and bassist Paolo Greggoletto to chip in on the harmonies. It’s a work in progress and sometimes doesn’t deliver on the heavier tracks but hearing classics like ‘Pull Harder on the Strings of your Martyr’ and ‘A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation’ in any form is wholeheartedly welcomed.
Having entertained the Spring and Airbrake, Ulster Hall, Mandela Hall and now the Limelight, the band have played some stages in the city that even local acts haven’t accomplished yet but the growth and maturity of their showmanship can be seen after a few trips around the world. The seamless engagement with the crowd and synchronicity on stage has elevated them to the echelons of Machine Head and Lamb of God. It’s a complete performance but thankfully not forced or rehearsed.
As the band thanked the crowd and made their way off stage, only seconds later the piano led intro of ‘Capsizing the Sea’ emerged through the speakers leading the way for the inevitable ‘In Waves’. It’s a tailor-made combo to finish off a show, heightened emotion followed by a crushing release.
Having last visited in December 2008, Northern Irish fans have been sent to Dublin to get their Trivium fix of late but a show like tonight’s might have reminded Trivium that they’ll always be welcome up north too.
Scroll through our photo gallery, by Sammie Quinn, below: