LIVE: Crossing borders from Dublin to Belfast with Danko Jones – 18-19/09/2015
We sent our photographer Shaun Neary on the road to tail Danko Jones as they kicked off their European tour in Dublin, Ireland. From there, we crossed the border from the Republic Of Ireland to The Limelight 2 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Here are his thoughts in words and photos.
With seven studio albums and close to a 20 year career under their belts, Toronto trio Danko Jones kicked off their UK & Ireland tour at Whelan’s in Dublin this past Friday night, their first Irish appearance in five years since their support slot at the ill-fated Guns N’ Roses show at the 3Arena in 2010. Support this time around comes from Scottish all female trio, The Amorettes, who are no strangers to Pure Rawk, especially as we caught them supporting the co-headline Europe & Black Star Riders tour back in March at Belfast’s Ulster Hall.
The festivities kick off with The Amorettes showing no signs of shyness, as they don’t hold back from entertaining those who turned up early. In terms of stage presence and crowd interaction, by the time they’re halfway through their set, they have the people helping along with backing vocals to ‘Heartbreaker’. Vocalist & guitarist Gill Montgomery states that it’s their first time at Whelan’s, but with two albums and an EP released since 2009, it doesn’t look likely to be their last.
Danko Jones take to the stage with all guns blazing. Kicking off with ‘The Rules’ leading into ‘Play The Blues’, Danko himself is clearly having the time of his life and has every intention of having nothing but fun on this tour, judging by his facial expressions alone as he belts out the lyrics to ‘Sugar Chocolate’. By this time the tension in the room has dissipated and those that are in attendance have really started to get into the show, and the band take a short breather to address to crowd. Probably well needed in light of the energy produced by Danko, John and Rich.
It’s clear at this point that Danko Jones are a band that wouldn’t take themselves too seriously if their lives depended on it. Danko remarks of the last time they were here, their set won’t be as long as when they ‘headlined’ the o2 (now 3Arena). The obvious joke being that Axl was having an off night, forcing Danko Jones to play longer than intended, only for Axl to walk off after three or four songs after bottles were thrown at him from an irate crowd who got restless waiting for them to come on. As Danko says, ‘We played for three or four hours, and Guns N Roses did two songs and left”. No problems with the crowd here tonight, who appreciated the humour of it all.
The tempo increases a bit for ‘Forget My Name’ and ‘The Twisting Knife’ before the band are treated to a very short, fast, but well received cover of the Misfits classic, ‘Die, Die My Darling’. The bass appears to be getting louder to the point of rib rattling proportions as J.C has essentially cornered the entire stage left to be his own personal playground. ‘Samuel Sin’ is immediately up next and at this stage, there’s a ‘big gig’ atmosphere around Whelan’s that makes you ignore the fact that the venue is less than half full.
While Danko may have joked about the show not being as long, they still managed to knock out a lengthy setlist, running approximately 1hr and 20 minutes and including a good portion of ‘Fire Music’ such as ‘Do You Wanna Rock’, ‘Watch You Slide’ and ‘Body Bags’, but long time fans are treated to a nice chunk of the bands back catalogue too with the inclusions of ‘Code Of The Road’, ‘Legs’, ‘First Date’ and ‘Lovercall’. A much welcome setlist in an age where bands have a tendency to almost disown their earlier material, Danko Jones aren’t forgetting the songs that brought them to the dance in the first place.
It’s hard to pick a bad spot in this show really. The low attendance was made up by the fact that those who were there either really wanted to be there. And it’s really hard not to enjoy yourself when three songs in, the band demands you to boo them for taking so long to return. And even then they’re not happy because you didn’t boo loud enough! After admitting that they deserved the booing, I doubt that we will have to wait another five years before we see them perform in Dublin again.
© Shaun Neary. All images are subject to copyright laws. All rights reserved.
Now that the Dublin show is done and dusted, we cross the border to the Limelight 2 in Belfast. This is an early show due to there being a club night on afterwards, which will enforce a 10pm curfew. The Limelight 2 looks somewhat different tonight, it’s probably the first time I have ever been in that venue where there was no barrier up, which was a head scratcher. Not that it was needed, as the attendance for The Amorettes unfortunately was even smaller than Dublin.
That being said, it doesn’t stop The Amorettes from going full pelt from the off. It’s taking a while for those who did turn up to get into it though, and need a little persuasion to join the crowd interaction. Gail Montgomery’s attempts don’t entirely fall on deaf ears as the crowd do actually get there by the time ‘Daddy’s Got Money’ is belted out. ‘Shoot From The Hip’, and the closing song ‘Hot and Heavy’ are all well received, but somewhere along the way the sound mix gets messed up, and a lot of the set is very bass heavy which drowns out a lot of Gail’s high notes and Heather’s backing vocal. Despite this, it’s still a strong performance.
Danko Jones makes it to the stage at approximately 8.10pm after the barriers finally do go up, so you know this one is going to finish relatively early. The setlist is exactly the same as the Dublin show, but thankfully, his lines aren’t, as he talks about the first (and last) time they were at the venue, which was fifteen years ago as a support slot to The Backyard Babies, which gets a good cheer from the crowd (and possibly a hint for them to be brought back over to Belfast). In saying that, Danko again insists they boo them for taking so long to return.
The venue has filled up a bit, but it still falls short compared to Dublin, although the Dublin crowd is subdued by comparison to Belfast. Especially when the first couple of rows start pogo-ing for the Misfits cover ‘Die, Die My Darling’, right up until Danko gives them a break and teases the crowd ‘making sure he gets the right note’ for the opening sequence for ‘Code Of The Road’ and at this point it’s safe to say that the crowd is on fire at the Limelight 2.
It wouldn’t be a Danko Jones show without his brand of humour thrown in for good measure. And while last nights shots were aimed at Guns N Roses, tonight was aimed at the venues early curfew, and he lets his feelings know about contemporary adult music and silent discos, which generates a thundering amount of boos. It’s fair to say that Danko has the crowd eating out of his hand at this point. He did make the fair point that there was more of them than there was of us, with was the unfortunate truth of it all. The band launch into ‘Gonna Be A Fight Tonight’ which concludes with the second ‘Dan-Ko-Jones’ chant of the night.
At this stage, an encore usually happens, but due to the location of the stage at the Limelight 2, there is actually no backstage area for the band to go to, so the band plough through a few more songs, starting with a cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Are You Ready’, which will always go down well north or south of the border, and finishing up the set is ‘Mountain’.
It’s hard to find a true fault in either of these shows on a performance level. For tour openers, the energy was there, the setlist spanned their entire recording career, both bands had a good time on the stage, the only real let downs were in terms of attendance which is a real shame. The band cross the Irish sea tonight and kick off the rest of the UK dates in Glasgow, which The Amorettes should easily set on fire. Both bands will then venture from North to South for the remainder for the month.
If they’re playing close by you this September, get your ass off the couch and pop in. Even if you don’t know much of their music, but you like a good rock and roll show, you’re guaranteed one on this tour.
Photos and Review: Shaun Neary