Friday, 13 May 2016

The Mighty Stef, Thee Penny Dreadfuls, Petty Youth, Buffalos Bay, (Belfast Empire, May 12th 2016 review)

The Mighty Stef played their final Belfast gig in the Empire on Thursday night, as the final curtain comes down on their time together as a band.

The Dublin quintet headlined three and a half hours of stellar rock and roll and got quite a send-off from a small but raucous crowd.

Proceedings kicked off with Buffalos Bay, a six-piece with a distinct psychedelic flavour, and they kicked off with a organ-heavy take on The Rolling Stones' The Last Time, which was a nice, solid start.

As their set progressed, their tightness as a musical unit was fairly apparent - all the more impressive since they only formed last summer. Their fondness for the '60s and '70s was evident in their set, but it led to a storming setlist. Pink Floyd, The Kinks, The Beatles all getting an airing.

Petty Youth ramped things up a notch, and were the standout of the support acts for me. The opener, You Do Me No Good, instantly brought to mind The Hives, a feeling that was repeated with Caught Up On You.

They slowed the tempo down for Something In My Drink for their self-confessed blues homage, but even that displayed an impressive ferocity. S.I.C.K was a stormer of a closer, with a double-time race to the finish line towards the end.

Thee Penny Dreadfuls brought an extremely dark and dense psychedelic feel to the night, with that adjective proving a good sum-up for the night as a whole. You would imagine Otto the bus driver from The Simpsons would have had a blast tonight.

With swirling organs and gruff vocals adding to a dark storm of riffs and aggression, there remained enough melody and attention to rhythm to get the head nodding. The aptly named Pop Song in particular was a highlight.

The main attraction, The Mighty Stef, provided a great send-off for the night as a whole. At the time of writing, they are putting the final full stop on their career in Dublin, but this was an ideal way to bring their Belfast touring lives to a close.

I myself was hooked in by Everybody Needs A Grave, and so that was what I was waiting for. Surprisingly, it was neither an opener or a closer, with it appearing just over halfway through. It lost none of its majesty on the stage, and will surely go down as a career high.

The set was opened by another recent favourite, Stella, and they earnt themselves a warm reception as they tore through it with glee.

A sped up version of Ceremony got quite a few hips moving, and had it been released in the guitar explosion of the noughties it would have scored them a national hit, although you could say that about a number of their tracks.

Another example would be We Want Blood, which even got a bit of crowd participation.

A stirring rendition of Magazine was an ideal way to finish, and in-keeping with the retro feel of the night in general, segued into a cover of Velvet Underground's Waiting For The Man.

Overall, I'd be hard pressed to get a more value-for-money tenner's worth of live music this year. The Mighty Stef will remain active musicians, just not as we currently know them, and it is certainly well worth keeping an eye on their future plans.


  1. I was ever so proud to give it my all on the dance floor. I was the one in the white leggings with black pattern headbanging and boogieing myself silly.
    Very nice write up Gerald.

    1. With rhythms like that going on, why not! Cheers!