The Seattle Grunge Experience | Photo Review
The Limelight, Belfast • 11 August 2018
Review: Nerys Coleman • Photos: Marta Janiszewska
The Seattle Grunge Experience made their debut appearance in Belfast on Saturday night. Fans packed tightly into Limelight 2 for a show that promised hits from Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. And what a hot, sweaty, grungy experience it was!
Looking very MTV Unplugged, the Dublin-based cover band started their 26-song set acoustically, with three guitarists and a lead vocalist perched nonchalantly on four bar stools, the drummer just visible behind them. Kicking off with Alice in Chains’ atmospheric ‘Nutshell’ and Pearl Jam’s skin-tingling ‘Black’, the crowd were immediately yielding and the video cameras were out. Hey, we’re a simple bunch!
Convinced the vocals would be passed to another band member for the Nirvana numbers, it was fascinating to hear the talented Dave Horan switch effortlessly from the deep, rich vocal of Eddie (don’t pronounce the consonants) Vedder to the scratchy and more nasal sound of Kurt Cobain for Nirvana’s ‘Dumb’. And the crowd rested assured – we’re definitely getting three for the price of one here!
The acoustic set allowed intimate renderings of the harmonious ‘Down in a Hole’ and ‘All Apologies’, the band and crowd filling the venue with the melodic beauty and begrimed musicality that is grunge.
After 30 minutes, it was only fitting to start the loud ‘n’ heavy set with Nirvana’s ‘Heart Shaped Box’, another crowd sing-along, closely followed by the dirty bass tones of Soundgarden’s ‘Outshined’.
The dandruff-flying head-banging was in full swing and it was getting notably hotter and sweatier. Several songs later, Pearl Jam’s ‘Rearview Mirror’ was creating an almighty frenzy at the front of the stage. As the last chords rang out, one fan couldn’t contain himself any longer and chucked a full pint of beer over the lead singer! Horan looked naturally bewildered and remarked about having no electric equipment on the stage at all, but seconds later launched straight into the ethereal vocals of Chris Cornell and Soundgarden’s ‘Spoonman’.
The guitarists and drummer created an indelible wall of sound and the anthemic choruses rang out for the rest of the night with no relief – there’s no room for that with these artists’ back catalogue.
An innovative band, considering their original concept, they continue to evolve their set list and debuted Hole’s single ‘Violet’ allowing Horan to attack Courtney’s Love’s higher vocals.
Cover bands, tribute acts – love them or hate them, they’re a popular genre. What’s so interesting is hearing the grunge archive back to back and being blasted by the full spectrum of foreboding energy from the songs that defined an era in the 1990s.