Axis Of - Voodoo, Belfast
Saturday 11th August 2012
It’s the last night of the Olympics (at least in the stadium), and we’re being forced to confront the prospect of real life again. But there’s still one final lap to go, and BeeMickSee is in the athletic mood, roaming about the venue, getting into the faces of his audience. He and his fellow MC certainly put the effort in, with co-ordinated dance routines and perpetual motion from both as they interact with the crowd, at one point calling for (and getting) a human pyramid formed. Lyrically, rabble-rousing forms a large part of BeeMickSee’s repertoire, with local references, slang and phrases dotted throughout. I’m still not sure about those sunglasses indoors at night, though.
Where our opening act was high on energy, our second is high on intensity and aggression. There is a tradition of 3 piece outfits from these parts, and Hornets represent the more hardcore end of the spectrum, ‘Unrelenting’ being a word that springs to mind as their loud, thrashing attack deafens us. They’re a band on the front-foot, pushing faster, harder, louder, and seemingly holding on for dear life just as much as the audience, and the demonic, frantic and uncompromising assault only lets up when they pause to wipe the sweat from their brows and swig down some water. Taking the foot off the accelerator temporarily, ‘F-Strings’ is still “Something to headbang to”, possibly only going at 90 rather than 100mph. It has an evil desperation to it, with little QOTSA/Kyuss style licks and brings a circle pit in the audience, whilst closing number ‘Weekend Warriors’ a dose of speeding blues pain, the soundtrack to Jack White’s nightmares after passing out with Black Sabbath on the stereo following a night on the lash with Keith Richards.
After that the room is pretty empty when Axis Of take to the stage, so much so that Ewan Friers hands his bass to a passing member of Strait Laces and goes off to invite us all forward personally. He needn’t have worried as the room quickly fills up for this Belfast leg of their 32 County Tour. The ambitious nature of this tour is telling, as they’ve progressed from their early days of non-stop thrashing and are maturing as song-writers, with more melody than in the past. This restraint may allow them to tour, but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten their roots though, as when you’ve got ‘Port Na Spaniagh’, ‘We Dine On Seeds’ and ‘The World’s All This’ you’ve got a soundtrack for headbanging and, in the case of ‘Lifehammer’, crowd-surfing. The last song of the regular set, ‘The Edge Of The Cane Break’ is a shift in direction to heavy, claustrophobic post-rock, before an encore of ‘Brobdinagian’ prompts more crowd-surfing than should be legal.
Words: William Johnson