The Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill is every rock fan’s dream. A passionate group of music lovers, long hair hanging, whiskey-drinking and live music with no outdoor interferences. The small village near Ballymena that houses his backroom-like venue is renowned for being one of Northern Ireland’s best venues with a backlog of performers hanging from the walls, signed with a message of thanks – after last night, I discovered why.
On this Saturday night, Lisburn act Nasa Assassin were the only support where Trucker Diablo’s guitarist Simon Haddock would play his last show. They stepped up to the plate with ease and a sense of opportunity. With three bus-loads coming from Belfast, the support was presently waiting to be shocked into life and the frontman, dressed in a white jacket and tie, was keen to take advantage. With passion and aggression, he commanded the crowd from the start, engaging and instructing with the potential of a great frontman. Like a well-oiled machine, Nasa Assassin performed their set with style and enthusiasm containing classy blues riffs and an attitude of world dominance. Their debut album, “Area 69”, should prove pivotal to future success but going on tonight’s proceedings, there surely is a foundation to build on.
Stepping on stage to the cheers of the Ahoghill audience, Trucker Diablo made their arrival known, with frontman Tom Harte and co blasting into action straight from the off. ‘Red Light On’ and ‘Year of the Truck’ were provided as delightful openings with the crowd poised and ready for their next assault on the Diamond Rock Club. The audience, packed tight with beers in hand, went into frenzy as ‘Drive’ made an appearance, displaying how tight Trucker Diablo’s live performances are as they are an almost direct resemblance to their record. Effortlessly performed immaculately with wide smiles on their faces, it’s a true demonstration of fine rock in the most supreme form. ‘Rebel’, ‘Not So Superstar’ and ‘Drink Beer, Destroy’ were examples of moments you’d never forget as crowd and band were as one and intensity was at its highest.
The banter on stage between band members was amusing, with most of it falling back on Simon Haddock, who was playing his last show before stepping down from the band. Whether his performance of Paula Abdul warranted the banter, we’ll leave that to you but the bind that keeps the band together is like family. Rarely without a smile, each band member enjoys every single moment of it and their family of fans sign up 110% to the cause. Nearing the end, “We’re Gonna Rock (Your Birthday)” was a surprise adaption of Christmas hit ‘”We’re Gonna Rock This Christmas” sending out birthday wishes to those attending before “Juggernaut” sent the Diamond Rock Club into rapture. The noise unbearable. The crowd elated, bellowing back every single world. A true moment of celebration. For their last song, Tom Harte handed the reins over to Simon Haddock who thanked the crowd for everything with a brief speech that brought tears to his eyes before finishing on the song that first brought them together. Magnificent. No matter what the future holds for Trucker Diablo, there is no doubt the fans will be completely behind them. We sure will be. Mark Dunn.