Review: Evil Scarecrow Live In Belfast

Ever since galactic metallers Evil Scarecrow turned Bloodstock Festival on its head with their now legendary performance last year, Belfast fans have eagerly awaited a visit to these shores. We got close… so close!… back in April; sadly that gig had to be cancelled due to ‘transport issues’ (ie their van died en route). Happily, they made good on their promise to reschedule, slotting in a date on their ‘Boldly Going Anywhere’ tour… even better, we got them on a Saturday night. Yes!

First up were two local acts to support them, in the form of By Conquest Or Consent, and Scimitar. By Conquest Or Consent describe themselves as ‘metal/groove/thrash/progressive’, which basically translates to ‘modern nu metal with added brawn’. Vocalist Pete Renshaw opens proceedings with a quick introduction of the band before releasing a scream that clearly comes from his bootstraps and up his body; by the time it emerges from his mouth it could smash windows. This roaring scream (screaming roar?) is one of BCOC’s Unique Selling Points along with their heavily groovy riffs and modernised nu metal grunt. Renshaw also dabbles in clean singing here and there, often harmonised by guitarist Jay Stevenson, to great effect.

They throw down a short, sharp set of bruising metal, including their best known track ‘We Came To Win The Fight’ to a small but growing crowd, spraying out rapidfire riffs that purposefully and gleefully punch you in the chest, before leaving the stage sheened in sweat and wreathed in smiles. That’s the crowd warmed up, then! Thrashers Scimitar follow them with a set full of machinegun riffs, fiercely screamed vocals and battering defiance. The intensity and concentration on every member’s face proves their dedication to their craft: they’re clearly a hard working and well rehearsed unit.

They pound the Limelight with tracks such as ‘Erased From Existence’ and their ubiquitous self-titled number, prompting the growing crowd to hold both horns and plastic scimitars (helpfully provided by the band) aloft, as well as headbanging along. In short: their set of new school and old school thrash, combined with a dash of extreme metal, goes down a storm (and the dedication to the victims of the atrocities in Paris from vocalist Jonny Gray is a nice touch).

And then it’s time for that most mysterious and rather standoffish of bands, Evil Scarecrow, to treat the crowd to an evening of sedate and measured radio rock…sorry, what?! Not even close, actually: the band themselves set up the stage and soundcheck (in full costume, no less!) which for them involves occasionally leaping into the crowd for photo opps…having set up their instruments to their satisfaction, they huddle beside the stage steps, arriving in flamboyant, high-fiving style to that speech from Rocky (“that’s how winning is done!”). After a short, jubilant speech from vocalist Dr. Rabid Hell about finally making it to Belfast (“four years we’ve been trying to get here…four years!”) they’re off, encouraging audience participation right from first song ‘Rise’.

Although their music is ripe with parody and liberal doses of silliness, there’s no joke in their musical talent: the music fizzes with energy and pounds with proper heaviness, while their vocal harmonies soar effortlessly. It’s catchy as f**k, too!

They blast through favourites such as ‘Frankenstein’s Mirror’, ‘Morbid Witch’ and ‘Dance Of The Cyclops’, the latter prompting what is guaranteed to be the only time people have ever waltzed in the Limelight! Throughout the set they are bubbly, beaming and quite simply bonkers, offering up silly stories and songs in equal measure, such as new, three second long track ‘Sheep’ and the crowd (and band!) participatory ‘Robotron’. The odd dash of potty humour lends them a slight Steel Panther vibe (albeit it with black metal corpsepaint); much like the Hollywood retro rockers, it works because they are accomplished musicians.

The crowd responds to it all with unfettered delight, performing the aforementioned waltz and robot dances with glee and really getting into the spirit of it. For their part the band seem genuinely delighted to be here and at the response they receive, reacting with laughter and complete show-boatery – at one stage drummer Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist (yes, really) snatches one of his floor toms and clambers on a table in the audience to play it!

There’s no sense of snideness or insincerity, just good, clean, raucous fun, whether it’s during the ‘no gravity’ dancing in ‘Space Dementia’ or the party poppers provided to add ‘pep’ to ‘War And Seek’ – and certainly not during the “very brutal, very evil war march – this is definitely not a conga!” led by guitarist Kraven Morrdeth during same! Their last song is… not the one the crowd has been waiting for, pincers aloft. Instead, they play “a depressing one”, jokes their vocalist, ‘Blacken The Everything’, all beastly riffs and heavy metal grapefruits all over the shop. They wave goodbye and exit stage right briefly, before returning triumphantly to play – yes, it’s time – it’s ‘Crabulon’. A spaceship/crab thingy joins them onstage to ‘assist’ as the crowd participation level hits fever pitch, with crab pincers as far as the eye can see (and yes, your scribe joined in of course!). The band spend most of the song laughing almost uncontrollably at the crowd’s antics, before ending with a flourish and another dedication to “our brothers and sisters in Paris”, leaving the stage to Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’ and immediately setting about trying to meet every audience member personally. Brilliant. Six months on from their near miss, Evil Scarecrow finally unleashed their Galactic Hunt on Belfast. Was it worth the wait? You’d better effing believe it.

Evil Scarecrow Setlist

Rise Frankenstein’s Mirror Morbid Witch Sheep Dance of the Cyclops Robotron Space Dementia War and Seek Galactic Hunt Blacken the Everything

Crabulon Follow Evil Scarecrow on Facebook

Review: Melanie Brehaut Photography: Darren McVeigh

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