Review: Crowbar – Limelight, Belfast

What better way to heat yourself up on a bitterly cold and stormy night than some sludge?

Galway’s Ten Ton Slug open proceedings with a well received short set (short in amount of songs, but not in riffs). Recently trimmed to a 4 piece, the sound is nonetheless huge, and the vocals vary between guttural roars and screeches, both as equally impressive as the other.

Guitarist Sean Sullivan delivers some blood curdling backing vocals, as well as churning out heavy riff after heavy riff. He also produces some amazing solos-all displayed with new song “Matriarch Of Slime” threatening to (quite possibly considering the weather) take the roof off. The COC sounding “Unit” has a real groove to it, before the prospect of one more tune seems to evaporate as quickly as it appeared. I’ll definitely be catching the band again soon, a great sound with a very talented frontman.

As always the Limelight 2 is perfect for this type of gig, and a sizeable crowd has formed by the time Two Tales Of Woe appear onstage, and my quickly written scribble contained an expletive, no doubt a compliment to the heaviosity of the riff. “I’ve Sold My Soul” showcases Carl King’s vocal range perfectly, a sludgy number that gathers pace, before finishing with a massive sounding riff the headliners themselves would have been proud of. As with the openers, the backing vocals successfully help to vary the sound, and new song “The Devil’s Mark” hints at exciting times ahead. In my notes made during the gig, for the closing song I just wrote ‘Last song-sabbath riff, wow wow’. No further explanation required…

New Orleans legends Crowbar appear to an enthusiastic crowd, Kirk Windstein having to say very little to get the crowd going. Indeed, due to language barriers, we are instructed ‘If I say anything just make noise’. And that’s essentially what happens for the just over an hour long set.

Opening with two trademark slower songs, means “All I Had (I Gave)”  and “Sever The Wicked Hand” offer a welcome change of pace. “Plasmic And Pure” from current album The Serpent Only Lies  perfectly represents the distinctive Crowbar sound, a slow sludgy number with (intentionally) strained vocals.

Windstein (wearing a Woeslug shirt), proclaims the support bands as the best two they’ve played with in years. He seems sincere, and the crowd response suggests they agree. Two Tales Of Woe’s Carl King returns briefly to help with backing vocals on “Planets Collide”. The frontman also acknowledges that the band are known as a slow band, and asks the attentive crowd if they want a slow one or a fast one – the obligatory answer results in a short encore ending with “I Have Failed” from their eponymous album.

The headliner’s set itself slightly lacks variety, especially considering the two opening acts, but this is to be expected (and is acknowledged) and is a minor quibble. A hasty exit (or as hasty as you can exit the Limelight’s stage), and my shaky legs and buzzing ears suggest I’ve just witnessed a great gig from the Godfathers of the genre.