Playing to their biggest crowd yet in Belfast at the city's celebrated Ulster Hall venue, Tuesday night's show followed on from their sell-out 2020 debut around the corner at the Limelight.
Although their outward appearance suggests an outfit battle-ready to defend the ancient Mongol / Turkic empire, their music, at times inspires not just war cries, but disco moves.
Arriving onstage to a conquering warrior's welcome, cinematic, dramatic, gothic, and epic are just some of the words that leap to mind when first laying eyes and ears on the Far Eastern behemoth. Incomparable in the metal realm, melding traditional Mongolian instruments to heavy guitars and drums, it's clear from the off why The HU made such an impact immediately.
Opening with 'Shihi Hutu', the track's Lord of the Rings soundtrack stylings – which the band refer to as hunnu rock – made for a simply arresting start.
Following with the altogether different ‘Shoog Shoog’, the roof raised on the Bedford Street venue, and not for the last time, as the song’s infectious beat got the packed hall moving.
Maintaining a purposeful march, ‘The Gereg’s chanted throat vocals were a wonder to behold, as up to seven of the eight on-stage members (the core four being augmented for live work) sang at any one time. The morin khuur [otherwise known as the ‘horsehead fiddle’) solos meanwhile, lifted the music into another realm altogether.
Greeting the crowd with a roar, imposing front man Galbadrakh ‘Gala’ Tsendbaatar declared; “Hello Belfast! It is so good to be back in this town”.
Following with the good time, Joy Division stomp of ‘Triangle’ with its new wave leanings, even those seated in the balcony were moved by its irresistible disco beat.
However, there were gremlins in the system, and during ethereal ballad ’Shireg Shireg’, a power outage forced the abandonment of the song midway through.
Not to be defeated, the band picked up in good humour, with the primal ‘Bil Biyelgee’, before inciting chants of “HU HU HU!” during the hugely popular ‘Wolf Totem’.
Wrapping up with heaviest song of the night in ‘Black Thunder’, and the Rammstein-reminiscent ‘Mongol’, Tsendbaatar signed off saying; “You guys are amazing! We love Belfast!”
Encoring with their take on Metallica’s classic ‘Sad But True’, it was a fitting end to a thoroughly entertaining evening of metal, folk, and much more.
A truly unique act, The HU are mesmerising. Two albums in, they show no signs of slowing. Long live The HU!
Check out our gallery from the show below. All photos by Warren Blair.
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