Jimmy Barnes – Belfast, Limelight 1 – 19 December 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby and The Dark Queen   
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 04:20

It really was meant to be, wasn’t it? There I was, blithely editing a review of a charity fundraiser bash by Jimmy Barnes and a few chums back at the beginning of the summer, when an email popped into my inbox from my local promoter proclaiming that the man himself was due to make a long overdue visit to our little corner of the rock ‘n’ roll Überverse… And so it was, almost six months to the day later, we found ourselves paying our last visit of the year to a venue which is literally just a few minutes’ dander from the front door of URHQ…

Lachlan Doley 1

I suppose one way of saving a few sheckels on the often prohibitive cost of touring, especially on the other side of the world, is not to bring a support band along for the ride, but to have your backing band – or, at least part of it – performing the warm up duties each evening: and so questions which had been floating about on social media as to “who is Lachlan Doley?” are quickly answered by the fact that he is, in fact, Barnes’ long-serving keyboard player, accompanied by the even longer serving Chris Pearson and the singer’s drummer son, Jackie.

Right from the off it’s obvious why Doley has been christened “the Hendrix of the Hammond”, as he combines blues, jazz, soul and out-and-out firestormin’ rock ‘n’ roll with aplomb and passion. Playing as much standing up, a la Jerry Lee Lewis, as sitting down (he has to keep looking ‘round to see how far back he’s kicked his stool), he earnestly reminds both DQ and myself why we love the swell of an organ (ooh, missus), as tonight it’s both swollen and majestic. The highlight of his all-too-brief five-song set is the luxuriant, and luxurious, ‘Still In Love’ – although it is hard to concentrate on the quieter, moodier moments thanks to the volume of inane chatter from the large number of culchies who seem to have ventured down out of the hills for tonight’s show!

Jimmy Barnes 9

Right from the opening notes of ‘Love & Hate’ it is obvious that Barnes still has the fire in his belly, the anger in his soul – and, above all, THAT voice. You know the one that can crack double-glazing at a hundred yards and raise the hairs on the back of your neck at the same time. Yes, that one. THAT voice.

A blue-collar (or, rather, black T shirted) rocker brought up in an era when a rock ‘n’ roll singer’s job is to entertain, Barnes does just that, eschewing needless chitchat – yet still interacting at the most basic and visceral level with his audience – as he keeps the momentum going, proving that he is indeed determined to ‘Ride The Night Away’, concentrating on the music, from the soul-infused ‘I’d Die For You’ and ‘Love Is Enough’ to the out-and-out old-school ‘50s bop-a-lula r’n’r of ‘Red Hot’.

Jimmy Barnes 7

It’s a full five songs before Barnes speaks directly, and briefly, to the audience, but it’s not arrogance on his part that, outside the songs, he doesn’t verbally communicate: it’s just that everyone, including the man himself, is enjoying the show too much to engage in conversation – heck, even the feckin’ country bumpkins have stopped chittering long enough to boogie in what little space is available to them.

Once Barnes gets into full flow, it’s surprising how many of his songs you find lodged at the back of your memory banks, and the audience reaction genuinely seems to reduce the man to tears at times, as the fans don’t need any second invitation to sing along. Barnes’ distinctive raspy vocal shows no sign of faltering or fading as he blasts through what is very much a “greatest hits” set, from ‘Lay Down Your Guns’ through ‘Too Much’ to ‘Resurrection’ and ‘No Second Prize’ to the humungous main set closer, his personal anthem, ‘Working Class Man’, during which he again has every word sung back at him as he proves he can still hit the ceiling with the high notes.

Jimmy Barnes 4

There’s not much of a chance for the audience or the band to take a breather, as the latter are back on stage within what seems like mere seconds for a spirited rendition of ‘High Voltage’. But, it’s not quite ‘Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)’, as they return for a second, curfew-straining encore, which emphasizes that rock ‘n’ roll is all about the ‘Good Times’: there certainly have been plenty of those this past year, and this evening was proof that there are still plenty more to be had.

PHOTO CREDIT. All photos © The Dark Queen/Über Rock. You can view our full gallery of photographs HERE.

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