The following review is a completely impartial report on our recent Empire Music Hall show submitted very kindly by Mal Coney who travelled all the way up from Dungannon to see ĎRock Of Agesí in action. Itís re-printed in itís entirety word-for-word as emailed to me and should anyone else have been at any of our shows this year with similar reviews then Iíd love to receive and post them here. All the photos were taken on the same night. Thanks Mal, youíve obviously got a future in jounalism, take it away my friendÖ..
The ĎEmpire Music Hallí in Belfast is probably the best venue at present to watch any band in action, and one of the few places worth travelling from Dungannon for a nights entertainment, but when you couple a fantastic venue with the best rock covers band in Ireland it makes every effort made to get there worthwhile! ĎRock Of Agesí do exactly what it says on the tin, a tribute band dedicated solely to the greatest era of hard rock, the legendary Eighties. Back then it was all about vision with the music, a big show on the stage to match the power of the sounds created, no standing gazing at shoes playing songs with no solos (in fact some of the greatest Eighties songs where basically solos with a few chords thrown in), no people putting across unfeeling music not caring if they were there or whether the crowd were enjoying themselves or not. A night like this is all about fun, escapism, nostalgia and watching a band in action who truly seem devoted to the music they play and perform as if their lives depended on the crowd enjoying themselves.
The songs they choose to play are wide-ranging and go right across the hard rock frontiers created in the Eighties, mixing melodic rock such as Journey, Firehouse and Tyketto in along with out-and-out metal with songs from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and of course throwing in a wide helping of sure crowd pleasers with Bon Jovi, Ozzy, Guns Ní Roses, Def Leppard and the Scorpions to name but a few. Over the course of over two hours we were treated to all our favourites with a huge sound and light show, and with the credentials of the songs and artists featured in their set, you would wonder how ĎRock Of Agesí get through from start to finish maintaining a quality of musicianship which remained consistently excellent throughout the whole show. To answer that I have to start with the main man himself, and in lead vocalist Harve this band have the voice and front-man capable of, well, anything really. This guy has been around the rock scene since the original Eighties, so he knows the score and whatís expected, but he just seems to be getting better and better with experience. I use to go and see this guy perform in the Rosetta and itís fantastic that he still has a platform from which to open up those vocal pipes as the manís range is awesome and stage presence, such an important part of the Rock culture of the Eighties (and present day) so honest and authentic. Harve will be around forever.
The rest of the band are excellent musicians also, and definitely appear to be a totally cohesive unit, a real band, not a bunch of guys thrown together for a quick project, these guys seem to know theyíre a band and going to be around for a long time. The rhythm section is thunderous, the bass and drums rarely losing a beat, complimented by a fine keyboard player who seems to enjoy himself even when heís meant to be out of his depth in the heavier moments. Why not? If youíve got it, flaunt it, thatís what the bombasticness (?!!) of Eighties rock was, and still should be, all about. ĎRock Of Agesí also features a twin-guitar attack, and while both are as important as each other in the overall scheme of this band, special mention must be given to the guitarist stage left (I never caught his name, but he did most of the lead guitar and is destined for big things) and sporting the compulsory wireless system he came forward on occasions to stage front to play lead guitar the quality of which I donít think Iíve ever heard locally before!
I have to emphasise that although each musician was individually excellent, the whole unit really had a binding sound with which each guy complimented the overall result. You just got the feeling watching and listening that it was 1988 again and all the big bands were still around, and when they ended their set with Motley Crue, AC/DC, Dio and Kiss, it really was seventh Heaven. I was at the gig with several friends, some of which, like myself, were there first time around when this music was created, but we were accompanied by some younger friends who were too young to remember much about Eighties rock, but all agreed that it would have been a fantastic period to have seen bands in, and also that itís as relevant and enjoyable to concert goers today as it was back then. The whole evening was enjoyed by an appreciative Empire crowd, the capacity audience contributing greatly off-stage to the atmosphere generated by ĎRock Of Agesí on it, and, again, many of those in the audience were experienced punters who were Ďthere-at-the-timeí, but amongst the crowd were many first-timers who were as enthusiastic about the greatest music in the world as those very familiar with it!
To summarise, the Empire witnessed a great nightís entertainment provided by a super bunch of guyís on stage and, as one member of the audience pointed out, if these guys are doing it for real up there, itís not really an Eighties rock night, itís whatís happening now, itís current, young people are into it, itís Millennium Rock and the more ĎRock Of Agesí get out there and do what they did here on Saturday night then the sooner the good timesíll come rockiní and rolliní back in! So thatís all from me, Mal Coney, News At Ten, Dungannon, Blitzed!