Blackwater Conspiracy – Belfast, HMV – 12 June 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby and The Dark Queen   
Friday, 16 June 2017 04:00

Fresh from what by all accounts was an absolutely storming set at Download, when they were the first band to play the second stage (a helluva prestigious slot for an unsigned – and almost completely unknown – band, it has to be admitted), Northern Ireland rockers Blackwater Conspiracy didn’t rest on their laurels when they returned home, jumping straight back in with an acoustic instore appearance in Belfast city centre.


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By all accounts, talking to singer Phil Conalane outside the store beforehand, they had a blast at this year’s remarkably dry Donington fest, playing to a packed auditorium, despite the early hour: “halfway through the first song, all of a sudden thousands of people came out of nowhere”. And they’re still very much on a high – something which the frontman references as they take to the makeshift stage on the top floor, where racks of posters and T-shirts have been moved out of the way and fans stand among the rows of “2 for £10” DVDs.


“We’re still very tired, so we’ll probably fuck it all up,” he jokes as they tear into ‘Waiting On Hollywood’, one of the highlight tracks on their debut album, ‘Shootin’ The Breeze’, which was actually released on the morning of their Download appearance and for which this store-case is a sort of unofficial launch gig. Normally instore appearances of this nature are short and sweet, but, perhaps because the store has just closed for the day (some fans are still in suits, having come straight from work for the 5.30 kick-off), BWC seem to be given a looser rain and treat the occasion like “a rehearsal with people watching”, as the ever effervescent Conalane puts it, and run through a total of seven songs from the album in a set which pushes the 45 minute mark.


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Phil admits that they haven’t fully rehearsed all of the songs in acoustic format, asking his bandmates if they remember ‘Penny For Your Dirty Mind’ when he asks people to shout out requests from the album: it’s clear that quite a few are familiar with it, as a holler for ‘President Joe’ gets met with a “you must be fucking kidding – it’s too complicated”. ‘Hanging Tree’ and ‘Shoot The Breeze’ itself, on the other hand, are two tracks which are well suited to the unplugged treatment, while the gamble of segueing the AC/DC rarity ‘Get It Hot’ into the midst of closer ’85 Rockstar’ just about works, with the band’s passion making up for any shortcomings in the power chord department.


Instore appearances can be tricky occasions: makeshift, without the benefit of full PA and lighting rigs. But, they can, and do, act as invaluable showcases or launchpads for a new piece of product, without having to all the effort of putting on a full scale gig and hoping loads of paying punters will turn up. On this occasion, with five lads from the mid-Ulster area playing to what a small gathering of essentially mutual friends, it was a pleasant experience and a good way to kick off another Über Rockin’ week…


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PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © The Dark Queen/ Über Rock.  See our full gallery of photographs HERE.


‘Shootin’ The Breeze’ is available on CD and download now, with the vinyl edition being released on 7 July. You can read our review HERE.


Blackwater Conspiracy play the Rising Stage at the Ramblin’ Man Fair on Sunday 30 July.


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