Gets your jive on with Alabama's rockabilly greaser, writes Michael Wilson
Belfast seems to be having a 50s revival right now. You can get the hair-do sorted at Vintage Rocks, we've our very own Whistle Bait Babies burlesque troupe and we're spoilt for choice with an assortment of vintage fairs or throw-back events to indulge in, where retro is celebrated and costume is essential. It seems like Dan Sartain - born about 50 years too late himself - is the right guy, arriving at the right time, to entertain a time-warped Belfast.
Also fans of the retrospective are the warm-up act The Lost Brothers, getting the evening started in a slightly curious, heart-warming way, their sound possessing a Mumford and Sons vibe. They have a unique look, a sort of old-fashioned, working-class Irish chic.
The Lost Brothers play a cover of Ricky Nelson's 'Lonesome Town' and at Sartain's request, 'All I Have To Do Is Dream' by The Everly Brothers, which are fine bedfellows alongside the Lost Brothers original material, which is lovely, but a bit Father Ted 'lovely'.
For those new to Sartain, he's a punk-rock troubadour from Birmingham, Alabama. Tonight is his third visit to the city having supported Hot Snakes and The Nightmarchers previously, but this is his first headline show, and his first with his backing band.
Sartain looks every bit the rock-star in his leather jacket, slick hair and shades. With his certain awkward charm, there's definitely an aura of cool-geek turned bad-ass about Sartain. The way he carries himself on-stage with tongue-in-cheek banter, it's impossible not to smile when watching.
Although fun to watch, the music itself is pretty dark. It's a mesh of rockabilly, blues and surf-rock with a Mexican Mariachi twist. The set tonight is filled with tunes from upcoming album Lives, including 'I Don't Wanna Go To The Party', 'Yes Men' and 'Praying For A Miracle' with a selection of old favourites like 'Atheist Funeral' and a Samhain cover of 'The Hungry End' to name a few.
Most of the tracks are two-minute jives that have an assortment of movers and shakers in the crowd strutting their stuff in an erratic fashion, which is brilliant to see. Sartain has an inspirational, intangible quality that makes you want to forget your inhibitions and get your groove on. Tonight's encore includes a crowd request for 'P.C.B. 98' and ends with a cover of The Ramones classic 'I Believe In Miracles'.
Amidst the tequila and whiskey-soaked B-movie horror-tinged spectacle, Sartain remains a genuinely down-to-earth, self-deprecating, humble human being. Living as he does in his own self-constructed vintage bubble, for Sartain, it's most definitely not a fad, a revival, or a scene. It's the Sartain way of life, delivered with effortless cool.