Of all the punk bands that came out of the north in the late 1970s The Outcasts were probably the hardest and edgiest.
Their song lyrics had a dark edge –You’re a Disease, Magnum Force and the catchy but distinctly sinister and perverted The Cops Are Coming.
More than 25 years after splitting up they were back on stage in Belfast on Saturday night at the Empire – well three of them anyway.
Singer Greg Cowan and his guitarist brother Martin, along with drummer Raymond Falls were from the original line up, which also included their late brother Colin also on drums and guitarist Getty.
The reformed Outcasts included former Rudi guitarist Brian Young (whose rockabilly band The Sabrejets provided support) and anarchist-about-town Petesy Burns on bass.
It was a superb, energetic performance that had men in their late forties and fifties, who should really know better, pogoing round the place and crashing in to one another.
There was also a fair smattering of younger people who were clearly not even born when The Outcasts were first on the go.
Greg Cowan – with spiked, bleached hair – is like a punk archetype, his snarling vocal delivery and singer-with-attitude stage presence make him a formidable front man.
The dual guitars of Martin Cowan and Young drove the sound, power chords with chunky but never overstated riffs
They pretty much covered their back catalogue and there were no ‘this is new song’ moments.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
A highlight was the dark and gothic Winter, from their second album Blood and Thunder.
A fitting touch was an introduction by Terri Hooley – lauded in a Guardian newspaper editorial last week as a man who deserves the freedom of Belfast – who managed The Outcasts and released their early singles and first album on the Good Vibrations record label.
The word legendary is overused when talking about bands and performers but The Outcasts were the real thing and Saturday night’s gig was a superb reminder of just why.
Footage of Terri's into and first song here.