@ Newcastle o2 Academy, May 13 2010

It is very rare that Newcastle is graced with one of the pioneers of the punk revival in the 90s but as Pennywise strolled into the Academy the North East crowd were in for a momentous evening.

By their own admission the band has neglected the UK in the past 10 years – only playing a couple of shows within that time. But this time they made a promise to their public that ‘things had changed’ and they would be making a conscious effort to return on a regular basis.

The main difference is the change in lead singer with Zoli Teglas, of Ignite, replacing the outgoing Jim Lindberg and this seemed to be a change for the better.

The line-up for the show was an impressive one with A Wilhelm Scream and Strike Anywhere supporting.  The former played an impressive half hour set showing an energy that was mirrored by the enthusiastic crowd and brought to an end with the stellar The King Is Dead.

Strike Anywhere, despite their energy, failed to get the now static crowd moving and were sadly hampered by technical difficulties.  It was now up to Pennywise to revive the Newcastle faithful and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

They are seasoned pros at this nowadays and with a 20-year career behind them they weren’t in the mood for slowing down now.

Opening with Every Single Day, which was met by a sluggish audience, guitarist Fletcher Dragge asked ‘are you guys still asleep or something?’.  The band picked it up with My Own Country and What If which got the crowd moving and the show seemed to get into full flow at this point.

Front man Teglas has the required energy to spark the Pennywise fans and on this showing looked a perfect replacement for Lindberg.  As a whole the band have a renewed energy with Teglas at the helm and classics such as Society, Greed and Fuck Authority have lost none of their presence.

Dragge introduced Teglas as ‘the new guy, but hey at least he wants to be here’ – perhaps a small jab at Lindberg.  But the band were clearly enjoying themselves and shared in-jokes and stories with the audience – Dragge regaling us with a tale of how he nearly got stabbed by Johnny Rotten. ‘Man it would be an honour to get stabbed by Johnny Rotten.’ he laughed.

Pennywise threw the audience a curveball with a cover of Misfits classic Astro Zombies followed by what seemed like an impromptu version of Stand By Me – met with both shock and bemusement.

Pennywise departed only to return with the sounds of Metallica’s Enter Sandman ringing from Dragge’s guitar before kicking into the excellent Aliens and closing with Bro Hymn – the quintessential Pennywise anthem.  After much change since we last saw them Pennywise have returned stronger than ever. And on this showing they have the potential to last another 20 years. Here’s hoping.

Tom Walsh