It was almost a year since Trucker Diablo bid farewell to their guitarist Simon Haddock in the home that afforded them such loyal support.
In the twelve months since, Trucker announced and reformed from hiatus (with Simon plugged in and ready), launched a successful Pledge campaign for new album ‘Rise Above the Noise’ and recruited a brand new bassist Jim McGurk before announcing the inevitable return to Ahoghill’s finest Diamond Rock Club.
Kicking off the show were the relatively fresh Gasoline Outlaws, who have only graced the stage a few times before. Formed from one half of late noughties outfit Black Freeway and the thumping yet melodic drumming of Pay*ola’s Adam Callaghan, their sound was classic rock and roll with hard-hitting riffs and the bellowing vocals of frontman Matt Fitzsimons commanding the audience leaving them hanging on every note. ‘Shroud of Wolves’ was an example of their craftsmanship and I would be surprised if they didn’t follow this show up with several around Belfast as well, of course, as a release for newcomers to listen, learn and take under their wing.
With the lights dimmed and the crowd growing impatient, chants of ‘Trucker! Trucker!’ came from the back to the front of this immensely intimate Diamond Rock Club. This is their home. This is the place where they always return to, album after album, landmark after landmark, they can always count on Ahoghill. With twelve months out, nerves were sure to be at the forefront but this show, billed as album launch, seemed to be the perfect way to overcome fears and worries.
With cheers, Simon Haddock led the band onto the blackened stage as camera flashes filled the room. Bassist, and new recruit, Jim McGurk gave a grateful wave to the audience as he took his place before Terry and Tom stood in position and gathered their composure. ‘Drink Beer, Destroy’ seemed like the perfect way to reintroduce themselves before ‘Drive’ cemented their ambitions to return to the front of the Northern Irish rock scene.
‘Are you ready to party?’ was the questions asked by Tom Harte, driver of the Truck, before the band flung them aggressively into ‘Party Like They Started the End of the World’ and it sounded immense. The heavy southern rock resonates within their new release and this was captured threefold in their performance following it up with the Troubles-influenced soon-to-be-classic ‘Fight Life’.
With favourites ‘Rebel’ and ‘Red Light On’ earning the adoration of the crowd, the show definitely had more of an impression of a reunion show than an album launch. In the modern day, we are so used to bands, fuelled by record companies and music executives, pumping out an array of new tunes but dip-feeding the classics to keep interest. This show was nearly the opposite with ‘When’s It Going Rain?’, ‘Voodoo’ and the epic ‘Juggernaut’ surely being among the highlights.
Although, that being said, Trucker Diablo played just under two hours and it’s fair to say their new album was well and truly covered, with ‘Murder Ballad’ and ‘Take Me to the River’ performed expertly before ‘Girl in the Photograph’ in the encore. It was definitely Trucker Diablo laid bare, sparking feelings of ‘here is what we have to offer, have it all and thank you so much for helping us return’. It was nice. The many wearing ‘Drink Beer, Pledged’ t-shirts as evidence of their support. The few jumping and moshing aggressively to the sound of their favourite songs. They were a part of this special show. Just how far will they be able to continue their journey this time around? Mark Dunn, GiggingNI.com