Whilst Nick Oliveri has not been the most fortunate alternative metal star of late with his departure from Queens of the Stone Age and lawsuits from previous band members; he has proved that he is not one to be so quickly dismissed as a raving, quasi-punk rock lunatic. Nick invites his fans to Belfast’s Voodoo Bar for an exclusive performance of the music that defined him. Only this time he’s going it alone in a bare-bones approach to his classic material in an acoustic set. For any fans of Oliveri’s many projects spanning over 25 years, this is a unique opportunity to get to see him perform stripped back versions of his work as it sounded upon its first conception.
Before things kick off the crowd seems fairly nonchalant with an eclectic range of fans with dreads, skin-heads, and seemingly regular Joe’s interspersed throughout Voodoo’s humble, intimate surroundings. Nick takes his time to mingle and chat with several fans, having a beer, a quick handshake then hops on stage. This is a night of good vibes; no one is taking anything too seriously.
Although many of Oliveri’s fans are familiar with his definite riotous sound, some were sceptical (myself included) of how such distinctively heavy music could be translated into an acoustic show. All it took was Nick to explode into “Six Shooter” to silence the sceptics and usher us into a night of what Oliveri himself has dubbed “Death Acoustic”.
Nick proves you don’t need ridiculously loud amps and massively distorted electric guitars to make heavy sounding music. Where some tracks in his discography are trademarked by their brutal sound, Nick’s deranged vocals and almost theatrical enthusiasm compensate for its absence. Oliveri’s gentle melancholic crooning quickly snaps into psychotic screeching in an almost Jekyll and Hyde manner captivating several audience members and inspiring the rest to engage in full throttle head banging.
With a set-list consisting of a healthy dose of Queens of the Stone Age hits such as “I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Autopilot”, Nick also gave a searing rendition of “Green Machine” by Stoner Rock legends Kyuss. By far the high point of the night was “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” in which nearly the entire venue joined Nick on stage as back-up vocalists while he thrashed out the crowd favourite. As well as several songs from The Dwarves and Mondo Generator, there were a few covers of The Ramones and GG Allin thrown into the mix to give the overall flavour of the music that has shaped the man we all know and love.
Between each song, Nick takes time to tune up for the next track while regaling the crowd with godless tales of partying, fighting, and touring; all of which served as the inspiration for this entire set. Each story gets crazier, funnier, and more candid as the show comes to a close, but one can’t help but think that Nick is offering an explanation for his behaviour; an insight into the mind that spawned this music riddled with violence, angst, and general debauchery. Nick remains ever humble and grateful, continuously thanking fans and becoming visibly overwhelmed at several occasions before quickly diving into a guttural, raspy performance of “Outlaw Scumfuc”.
Overall, Nick Oliveri’s blend of metal and acoustic is as raw as it gets. Nick gives us the songs we all know, but as we’ve never heard them before. We get the sense that this is how these songs originally sounded in their most crude and rudimentary form when being written by just a couple of guys, a couple of beers and a guitar. Nick promises to return again soon with his full band to give us the full experience, which in everyone’s opinion is long overdue.