Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival has been feeding the once-starved aristo population for 17 years and now attracts well over 60,000 punters to over one hundred eclectic events in the city each year.

It was under the Out to Lunch festival offshoot banner designed to liven up dreary January that Belfast welcomed Ruts DC. This was the band, who in their first incarnation as simply the Ruts, were destined to rival the Clash as Britain’s best politico agit-pop/punk combo when storming the charts in the late seventies with a string of DM stomping ditties that in later years became anthems to anyone that once owned an anarchy t-shirt.

First up, however, was home-bred glam rockers Stop! Stop! Start Again! They can be relied upon to ignite any gathering with their fusion of glam rock licks and posturing allied with a punk sensibility for a short sharp three minute sonic shock.

Unfortunately they don’t appear to have written any new songs for about three years so the material was as gossamer thin as the SpongeBob SquarePants lookalike singer’s shirt.

A near sell out crowd was in place when Ruts DC took to the stage in the now familiar trademark garb of fedoras and black jackets.

To be honest, it took a little while for the band to hit their stride. Whether that was because they chose to kick-off the set with some plodding and pedestrian tunes incorporating such self-signifying lyrics as ‘stop the violence’ or whether the audience was expecting a high octane kick-ass opening is a moot point.

The opening bars of No Time to Kill was the first step towards reawakening the would-be rude boys who by this time were starting to stare elsewhere but at the band.

Another early eighties classic, Dangerous Minds, sealed the deal and the crowd were fully back onside.

But in common with many similar gigs by bands of a similar background and vintage, in seems that the majority of punters are only there to here the songs they remember from their youth.

In that respect there were not disappointed as the back end of the gig was packed with party favourites like reggae/punk crossover classic Jah War, West One (Shine on Me) and a rambunctious rendition of Starting at the Rude Boys.

If the evidence of a good night out is a proliferation of smiles, a glistening of sweat and a tattoo of mutual back slapping, then this was a great night out.

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