@ Newcastle o2 Academy, January 28 2009

First off there’s nothing more frustrating than standing in a queue for 15 minutes and missing the bulk of the opening set and yet that’s exactly what happened as the mist rolled into Newcastle tonight. In Case Of Fire could have set the world alight but on the evidence of one and a half songs it’s too hard to say.

But Black Tide certainly did and it’s frightening to think that frontman Gabriel Garcia is still a sweet 16 as he confidently blasts his way through a string of old skool metal anthems.

The Miami native might lack the self-confidence of Jimmy Urine but that’s no bad thing as he lets his remarkable voice and finely tuned axe do the talking. On modern anthems Shout and Warriors Of Time there’s no doubt Black Tide sound like Iron Maiden’s natural heirs mixed with a dash of Bay Area thrash and a sprinkling of German classic rock. They strike the poses, sing the songs and walk the metal walk. Which is more than good enough for us.

So what about Dir en grey? The last Japanese band rushonrock saw live was Shonen Knife in Sheffield. The time before that it was Vow Wow. Let’s just say that as a nation the country responsible for sushi doesn’t do a great line in raw rock. But that’s all changing. Fast.

There’s something inexplicably mesmeric about a pint-sized frontman stripped to the waste wearing the kind of shiny adidas tracky bottoms you’d normally find adorning a teenage Scouser. That Kyo doesn’t sing a word of English doesn’t really matter – in fact it only adds to the sense of brooding mystery surrounding a band heavy on tribal beats and painful riffs. At times sounding like Anthrax played in reverse and occasionally mimicking The Prodigy on steroids it’s little wonder Dir en grey are close to cornering the metal rave scene. The kids love ’em and it’s easy to understand why.

But then they also love Mindless Self Indulgence. And that does beg questions of the youth of today. The Beastie Boys did it better.The Scissor Scistors are far slicker. And when you can listen to Dir en grey instead of doing your maths homework why bother with a bunch of limited musos big on image but sorely lacking in just about every other respect.

Urine is an acquired taste. And it’s a taste we just can’t enjoy. An unconvincing set on the main stage at Leeds last summer asked serious questions of this one trick pony performer and his cliched banter really grinds. Perhaps he knows his market better than us but even 12-year-old girls must cringe at what Urine passes for humour.

But then it wasn’t all about taking the piss. When MSI’s lead singer suggested he’d rather be watching New Kids On The Block than performing on the Academy stage he was clearly serious. It sounded like a good idea and with that the exit doors beckoned.

Simon Rushworth