Festival season has often been a good time for Belfast and Dublin with many bands needing to fill in their sparse schedules with midweek club shows all across Europe. On this occasion, Devildriver followed up their appearance at Bloodstock with a return to Belfast after a four-year absence. Having last graced the stage of Limelight 1, this time around the Californian quintet were in Limelight 2 but the downgrade was not a bad thing as the venue was absolutely packed.
Promptly taking to the stage at 8.15pm, no efforts were made to ease us in as the band kicked off with a trio from their incredible 2005 album “The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand’. Hammered out without a word in between “End of the Line”, “Hold Back the Day” and “Grinfucked” was exactly the type of welcoming Devildriver fans have come to expect. A known force for their epic walls of death and circle pits, the Limelight 2 didn’t offer the room to get a circle going but it frontman Dez Fafara encouraged as much movement as possible to which the crowd obliged.
With eight albums under their belt and so many fan favourites, not all could make the cut but nonetheless, a set of relentless classics were turned out one after another. “Cry for me Sky” from their self-titled debut was the perfect example of the bands signature groove metal sound. Despite a fairly recent upheaval in band personnel the new guys absolutely own the old material. The relentless drumming and ingenious fills of former Chimaira drummer Austin D’Amond were a particular highlight all night. In saying that, everyone was in form as the sound during the set was near flawless with the exception to Dez’s vocals which did seem to be at a stretch. Keeping the nostalgia buzz going, the duo of “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” and “These Fighting Words” from 2007 album ‘The Last Kind Words Ever’ closed out the first half hour of what would end up a rather short set.
The now familiar inclusion of AWOLNATION’s “Sail” has become a fan favourite in the Devildriver setlist which Dez Fafara explained was his offering to fellow ADD/ADHD sufferers. Getting straight back to the action the set returned to the bands first three albums in the form off “Before the Hangman’s Noose”, “I Could Care Less” and “Clouds Over California”. The material now over ten years old sounded just as vigorous and violent as when it was first released and Fafara performs it with the gusto as if he only wrote it this year.
With Devildriver’s no encore policy, “The Mountain” closed out the nights’ proceedings, an unfamiliar trait usually reserved for “Meet the Wretched”. Nonetheless, the crowd lapped it up and used their last opportunity to get a pit going to its full potential. As always, the hot and humid Limelight 2 was reaching boiling point but as we hit 9.15pm, we were done for the night.
The thirteen song, hour-long set did come as a disappointment but only as they were so many more classics in the vault that never made the set. Maybe it’s a case of sticking to a festival style slot or maybe it’s all Dez’ voice is fit for, either way, another 3/4 songs would have been appreciated.
With all that said, it’s hard to fault the performance and musicianship witnessed over the hour. The sixty minutes went by in a blink and the once-familiar sound of my teenage years was much welcomed. It’s hard to deny the soundtrack of your formative years and I’m always up for that trip down memory lane when Devildriver come to town.