Triggerfinger’s latest A38 concert, promoting their most recent album, named, in an endearingly Triggerfingerish-grandiose way Colossus, was unequivocally introduced on the event page as one by the second best rock band in Belgium, since the first one will forever be dEUS (themselves regular A38 visitors). It is of course hard to argue with this statement, given dEUS’s decade spanning career and international fame, plus being second best in Belgium is not as bad as it sounds. For a country so small, teetering both on the edge of the continent, and the edge of occasional dissolution, Belgium have produced an intriguingly large number of quality rock acts, and mercifully keep themselves mostly at bay from Dutch knob fiddling tendencies.
To their defence (if they need one, and I am not really sure), Triggerfinger are however Belgium’s most rock’n roll act, some sort of a, was trying to avoid this, but here it goes: some sort a Belgian colossus of cool. There’s only three of them, and you would perhaps not expect them to make so much racket, but they do, managing to fill the entirety of the stage with their presence, whether it is A38’s club environment, or Sziget’ Main Stage. They’re also a bit special in the way they give space to their drummer, Mario Gosssens, whose untamed beats offer the backbone of many of their songs, and who regularly goes berserk on drum soloes, coming in very close physical contact with his kit, but then again, a love this big is hard to contain. To his left is Monsieur Paul, the band’s quiet enigma on bass, matching his impeccable black suit with light Converses.
If you feel I am hovering too much over wardrobe details, wait until I hit the one and only (and as such irrepeatable) Ruben Block, sporting a gentlemanly-flamboyant suit tailored to perfection and golden high heeled boots. You read that right, golden high heeled boots, which somehow make him look like a particularly manly version of long-limbed supermodels, with the added bonus of some mean guitar skills. Since no one is sadly perfect, not even Ruben Block (sigh), his voice is, as he adeptly describes it pretty ’shot’ on the night, with a couple of songs turning into muffled growls.
The lead singer losing their voice every now and then during a gig could deter many bands from rocking it, but not so Triggerfinger: they’re masters of the small improvisation, of tweaking their shows just so to match the place, the night, the mood, the crowd, or the technical/biological limitations. This was the fourth time I’ve seen them in about three years, and none of their shows was the copycat of another. Sure, they do stick to general setlists just like any other band, but there’s also a feeling of things just suddenly happening too, of a kind of pleasure the band take in veering to another route mid-concert. Block even occasionally glances at his tablet for a reminder of the lyrics. I always thought it was not particularly rock’n roll to know all the lyrics to your songs, and some to the songs of others, by heart. I am not sure eyeing your tablet is all that rock’n roll either- or it wasn’t, until Ruben Block started doing it- I half wish next time he’d cover his tablet in some studs and sequins, to match the shine of his boots and guitar strap.
Finally, since I keep getting complaints that I do not breach the subject of the sound, which is invariably atrocious everywhere as per eagle-eared observers: to me it sounded alright, bar a few minor distortions in the beginning, but the blog’s industrious co-photographer had some concerns to raise, which made him retreat towards the back of the crowd. That is a course of action I however do not approve of: you do not simply retreat towards the back of a Triggerfinger concert, because you’ll miss out on the fun, of which there is plenty. And a close viewing of those golden boots.