Arriving with as much commotion and unbridled power as (but infinitely more welcome than) Storm Dennis, Mongolian Hunnu metal phenomenon, The Hu arrived at Belfast’s The Limelight on Saturday night (15th February 2020), bringing a unique blend of head-banging tunes and traditional throat music.
Formed in 2016 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, The Hu are a unique proposition, bringing together traditional Mongolian singing styles and instruments, with hard rock sensibilities. Presenting a unique blend, the octet found themselves an almost instant viral online success, with their first two music videos, ‘Yuve Yuve Yu’ and ‘Wolf Totem’ garnering views into the millions. From this came debut album, ‘The Gereg’ which reached No.1 in the UK Rock and Metal Chart in 2019, and cemented their growing popularity and position as one of metal’s most exciting acts.
The European run then, provided a chance to justify the hype, and show off what the band is really all about. Kicking off with the enthralling, jump along anthem ‘Shoog shoog’, it was clear that this was going to be a rock gig like no other. With members Galbadrakh “Gala” Tsendbaatar, Enkhsaikhan “Enkush” Batjargal, and Temuulen “Temka” Naranbaatar playing traditional Mongolian stringed instruments, guitars and bass were augmented by morin khuur and tovshuur; instruments rarely seen on the Belfast stage.
“Hello Belfast, are you ready?” screamed Nyamjantsan “Jaya” Galsanjamts, welcoming the crowd, as the band delved right in, to deliver a riot of melodic tracks like ‘The Same’, ‘The Gereg’ and ‘Song of Women’, with harmonised deep throat singing and native lyrics that energised the audience.
With chanted mantras, and powerful songs of heritage, warriors and women, the likes of ‘The Legend of Mother Swan’ showcased another side to the band, as the traditional elements of Mongolian music with a slower paced piece intertwined with an undoubted hard rock foundation.
Cramming the show and the eight-piece onto a stage with an area considerably less than that of Mongolia may not have been easy, but the band still managed to deliver a spectacle, with their regimented stances, fist-pumping and hypnotic beats uniting band and audience in a common language.
Delivering more explosive tracks in ‘Uchirtai gurav’, (a catchy, toe-tapping intermission), ‘Shireg Shireg’ and ‘Bii Biyley’ the night drew to a close with the band's best known songs, in the aforementioned ‘Yuve Yuve Yu’ and ‘Wolf Totem’.
Ending with the reverent ‘The Great Chinggis Khan’, ‘Black Thunder’ and ‘This is the Mongol’, The Hu declared “We love you Belfast!! Thank You!!” before making their exit.
The Hu and their self-styled blend of Mongolian Hunnu rock provie an utterly unique experience, which in itself is a marvel in today's overcrowded musical marketplace. Long may they reign!
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Check out our gallery from the show below. All photos by Warren Blair.