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Fozzy/Hardcore Superstar – Belfast, Limelight 2 – 29 October 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby and The Dark Queen   
Friday, 03 November 2017 04:20

Co-headline tours have undergone something of a rebirth in popularity in recent years – and, from my perspective, I think that it’s, by and large, makes common sense, combining a pretty neat packaging idea (providing, of course, there is a reasonable degree of compatibility between the acts and they are not at polar opposites of the spectrum from each other) with a value-for-money alternative to often over-priced one-act bills. This particular revolving package – with Fozzy nominally headlining in the UK and Ireland, before Hardcore Superstar take over the role in the rest of Europe – was an even bigger belter, in that it came with another two “support” bands bolted on as well…

 

The Last Band 5

 

With the first two bands also revolving on a geographic basis, The Last Band hit the stage with an angst-ridden, punk-fuelled fury. It’s great to see a healthy and enthusiastic crowd – something picked up on right away by frontman Coffe Blood when he remarks “we played Birmingham on Friday and it felt like a Sunday: you guys make Sunday feel like a Friday!”. We perhaps could have done without the nevertheless brilliantly performed cover of RATM’s ‘Bulls On Parade’, but new single ‘So What’ summarizes an incendiary performance, which is in turn rewarded by one of the most apeshit crowd reactions I have seen for an opening band in quite some time!

 

Madame Mayhem 4

 

At the end of troubled line check, Madame Mayhem steps up to the mic and declares that “we’re just gonna go for it, ‘cos you guys want to hear more fuckin’ music, don’t you?” The New Yorker and her band are very much the unknown quantity on the bill, and it’s understandable that they don’t get the initially rabid response of their predecessors. However, they quickly start winning the crowd over and get heads nodding and more than a few fists raised in appreciation, and by the end of the third song, ‘Innocent’ the crowd are chanting little Ms Mayhem’s name over and over. Obviously heavier live than on record, their sound is driven by a knee-trembling bass drum sound, which shakes the venue down for a pound, and by the end of their set they have won over a helluva lot of new fans, many of whom make their way straight to the merch stall, where the singer is already waiting to meet them.

 

Hardcore Superstar 5

 

Hardcore Superstar are received like returning kings – well, it has been four years since they blew Fuckberry (sic) off the stage of the larger venue next door – and it is clear that this is the band that the majority of the crowd have come to see. As a result, HCSS don’t have to ‘Beg For It’ in terms of getting a rapturous reception – and what follows is the exemplar of a hot ‘n’f’n’ sweaty rock ‘n’f’n’ show: it’s loud, it’s proud and it doesn’t give a flying shit about its ‘Good Reputation’.

 

Jocke is jumping so high that I swear he’s going to hit his head off the steel girder across the top of the stage as he endeavours to ‘Touch The Sky’, and the atmosphere is so explosive that you can smell the cordite over the sweat. The between song chants of “Hardcore, Hardcore” take on a momentum of their own, so much so that Jocke pauses to ask his bandmates “should we move to Belfast?”: you’re more than welcome, bais, but just next door – there’s only so much of this partying we can take! And do you really need to ask if we’re ready to ‘Fuck The Law’? Jocke, we’ve been doing that for the past 50 years!

 

Hardcore Superstar 4

 

When they declare ‘Last Call For Alcohol’ (fortunately that’s still really an hour or so away), if there’s any space left on the dancefloor a body is squeezed onto it, and if there is any breath left in that same body then it’s being found to join in the mass singalong. As the Superstars crack open the ‘Moonshine’, the party momentum is relentless and the Swedes may claim that they ‘Don’t Celebrate Sundays’ – but we sure as fuck do when they’re as good as this one… A storming set, on which the backing tapes whose use had ever so slightly taken the sheen off their last visit to this corner of the Überverse were remarkably, and thankfully, more restrained in their exploitation.

 

It has to be admitted that there are a fair few people who drift off in the direction of either the bar next door or home at the end of HCSS’ set, but thankfully the majority of the crowd are here for the duration. The Ric Flair-style shouts of “Whooo” occasionally echo around the room as Fozzy’s crew undertake their set up – and, it must be admitted that a pang of boredom sets in during the somewhat overlong interval, before the band one by emerge from the shadows of the street outside and on to the stage.

 

Fozzy 7

 

Then, boom, their millionaire frontman sprints up the steps and bounds straight on to the platform wedged between the, erm, wedges, soaking up the adoration of the faithful, who in turn are singing every word of opener ‘Judas’ straight back at him. It has to be admitted that Chris Jericho is a true entertainer, who knows how to give the crowd exactly what they want, and also get from them just what he wants as well. Yes, he’s a cocky shit, perhaps even an arrogant one, as he stands with his arms outstretched in a Christ-like pose, soaking up the chants, but he first and foremost knows how to put on a bloody good, and entertaining, show. After all, that's what show business is all about, isn't it?

 

The reaction is just crazy, as the mass singalong continues through ‘Drinking With Jesus’ and into ‘One Crazed Anarchist’: I know WWE fans are pretty fanatical but Fozzy ones definitely ratchet it up a level – at least on tonight’s evidence: they don’t need the ultimate showman towering over them to command them to scream or raise their fists – they’ve got their cues before he’s lined up the cards.

 

Fozzy 4

 

Of course, there are some crossovers between Jericho the rocker and Jericho the wrestler – and there it is, right there: as the intro to ‘Spider In My Mouth’ crawls from the speakers, the latest version of his trademark flashing jackets dazzles and glares. It’s pure fucking entertainment – nothing less, nothing more, and this is emphasized with the now obligatory cover of Abba’s ‘SOS’, the choruses of which see the dancefloor turning into a sea of writhing and jumping black leather clad bodies. Jeebus, by this stage it’s like a furnace in here, and sweat is not just dripping off us and Jericho, it’s running out of our collective pores like a river in full flood.

 

But, let’s pause the action with our virtual remote control and talk briefly about the rest of the band: after all, without them, it wouldn’t matter how good their frontman is, would it? Rich Ward writhes like an anaconda to the singer’s right, laying down vicious riffs alternated with hard-edged melodies which, more than ably supported by Billy Grey, accentuate the catchiness of the songs themselves, while the rhythm section of Frank Fontsere and Paul Di Leo are tighter than the clasp on a Ballymena man’s wallet.

 

However, the focus is inevitably on the frontman. As I said, he is the consummate entertainer: but, there is also a predictability which comes from years of pulling the same moves, both in and out of the ring. Yep, we’ve already had the “adore me” poses, augmented by the tiny little palm/finger flicks; and we’ve had the flashing jacket; hell, we’ve even had the withering looking when someone even just thinks about starting a “Y2J” chant. Now we have the encore that’s not an encore bit: after a main set that clocks in at just ever so slightly over 50 minutes, Jericho does the stunt with the towel over his face, teasing the crowd by lifting it slightly, dropping it, lifting it again and repeating same until finally throwing it to the side and rewarding the play along antics of his fans with a suitably acerbic rendition of ‘Sandpaper’. Yep, pure showmanship… but ain’t that what r’n’r is all about?

 

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