Rival Sons Northern Irish debut wows the Limelight in Belfast, who in turn, stun the band with a heart warming welcome.

US-based hard rock outfit Rival Sons have been visiting the UK for the best part of six years, but have never crossed the Irish Sea, until now. Fresh from their support slot with the mighty Black Sabbath in Dublin the previous night, which was the band’s Irish debut, they now perform their first full Irish headline show.

There is no support tonight, with the band taking to the stage almost an hour after the venue’s doors open, to the eagerly awaiting Belfast audience. The now familiar theme tune to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” plays out and the 600 capactity sell out crowd cheer and applaud in anticipation.

Rival Sons opt to begin the proceedings with a one-two of tracks from their latest album Hollow Bones. Opening track “Hollow Bones Pt.1” followed by the heavy guitar led “Tied Up”. The band’s usual opening song of choice “Electric Man” completes a frantic start to the show which sends the hungry crowd into a frenzy. Rival Sons play a good and varied setlist tonight and most of the audience could be heard singing every word of the popular “Pressure and Time”.

The band feeds off the vibe, excitement and electric atmosphere that could be felt within the Limelight. Vocalist Jay Buchanan tells crowd “This is starting to get real fucking fun” before he swaggers and gets lost in the moment performing “Belle Starr”. The Belfast crowd get lost in the moment with him.

Buchanan informs the crowd “This is a favorite of mine. We haven’t played this for a long time but we are going to give it to you guys tonight” before the band slow things down to perform a moving rendition of “Jordan”.

Buchanan performs a heartfelt rendition of “Torture”, which is one of the highlights of the evening. Rival Sons give it their all, as does the crowd, with all 600 fans singing in unison. This could have continued all night and the band appears to be overwhelmed by the reaction. Buchanan was left temporarily speechless, Miley wide eyed and open mouthed, and guitarist Scott Holiday with his hand to his heart. Belfast continues to sing after the end of the song to let Rival Sons know how much they are loved back.

The epic yet atmospheric “Fade Out” builds with some amazing guitar playing and effects from Holiday. Buchanan tells the crowd “Here’s something old” as they cheer for the classic “Tell Me Something”, which features a nice little Holiday solo at the end of it.

Buchanan dedicates “Face of Light” to his son back home, and the song slows things down again but the vibrant energy in the room never stops. The track develops into a medley as Buchanan along with Holiday performs the quiet but haunting “Sacred Tongue”.

Rival Sons end the set with the popular “Open My Eyes” with drummer Michael Miley and bassist Dave Beste keeping a nice tight, prominent rhythm throughout. Keyboardist Todd Ogren Brooks adds beautiful accompanying touches as the show progresses.

Miley treats the Belfast crowd to a thunderous drum solo before the rest of the band return for to the stage for a duly deserved encore including “Hollow Bones Pt.2”, which is another highlight of the set. At one point Buchanan sings on his own with no lighting. It is simple, natural, mixed with raw emotion which mesmerises Belfast. The track also gives the band the freedom to improvise. Buchanan showcases all his screams and wails, passion and emotion. Rival Sons bring the show to a close with the highly energetic “Keep On Swinging”.

There was something special about the atmosphere in the room tonight. High in energy and spirit from both Rival Sons and the Belfast fans, with much intimacy within the sold out Limelight. Rival Sons always give 110% wherever they play but those who were at the band’s first Irish headline show will remember this one for a very long time. Belfast will be hoping it won’t be too long before Rival Sons return.

Rival Sons
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Event Date: 21-01-2017