Radar is the gift that keeps on giving. Tonight sees headliners More Than Conquerors give their last Belfast show of the year, and there’s a suitable crowd out in force to bid them farewell for now.
Only three months on the go, the first act are so new they’re practically pink. Even so, this is their second Radar performance in the space of five weeks. PigsAsPeople (or, the alarmingly acronymed PAP) show us why with a refreshing and confident set. Drummer Wilson Davidson takes the time to limber up before he seats himself – this bodes well. What follows is a frenetic mash of hardcore, prog rock and metal that rarely lets up. The music grows steadily in confidence as the band continue to play. Audio samples from the likes of Tom Waits makes the set more cohesive, suggesting a maturity beyond their brief gestation period. Contrast between dark and light textures is effective in ‘The Quiet Earth’ whilst debut track ‘Glass Fiends’ bandies vocals between bassist Chris Leckey and guitarist Stevie Lennox. The set closes with ‘Cities’, encouraging some moderate headbanging from a garnering audience. It’s early days yet, but these guys have got off to a great start.
It’s a completely different kettle of fish as Clown Parlour gain the stage. Side project of Mojo Fury’s Mike Mormecha, the music serves as a diversion from their decidedly hefty sound. Mellow, but far from innocent, the band float along with the aid of punchy moog-esque synths and jaunty beats. ‘Vicious Delicious’ belies a pop song with its dainty syncopated ostinato, but Mormecha’s ambling melodies add a more sinister tone. The new Speakeasy layout feels “like a different country” to Mormecha as the band traipse through the collection of songs with a laidback irony. It’s well executed yet there is something of a distance between crowd and stage. Favourite ‘Stanley Kubrick’ and ‘Snake Wears Boots’ stand out in particular, demonstrating tight harmonies and unusual chord progressions to full effect.
The opening bars of ‘I’ve Done Nothing/I’ve Done It All’ announce that More Than Conquerors (pictured) have arrived. Stragglers from the bar join the crowd, eager for more despite the band having played Belfast Music Week only a week before. As always, the quartet are in their element as they play old hits alongside material from their upcoming album – new single ‘When The Well Runs Dry’ sounds superb. It’s strange though: apart from a few rows of More Than Conquerors’ die-hard fans up front, the crowd is attentive but uninvolved. ‘Oh My Son’ gets a few heads going, but frontman Kris Platt has to coax everyone to come closer before he is able to do the obligatory crowd surf for ‘Bear Knuckle Fight’.
The band can’t help but notice the audience’s distance; guitarist Danny Ball wants more than “head bopping”, encouraging the crowd to “make some noise.” Pockets of moshers emerge here and there, but it’s not quite the frenzy we’re accustomed to. Platt has to hush the chatterers at the back of the room as he thanks everyone for turning out. The band finish up on ‘Hearth and Home’, which is thankfully enough for someone up front to jump on top of the crowd for. A flawless performance from start to finish, but with no door tax tonight it was hard to separate those attending for the music, and those here for the discount pints. Grace Loughrey