@ Newcastle O2 Academy, July 7 2011

Former Cold Chisel frontman and bluesy, gravel voiced legend Jimmy Barnes made a rare appearance at Newcastle’s Academy O2 and tensions were running high.

Having heard great things about his vocal prowess, there was more than a little scepticism about whether he could still deliver the goods with his usual power. 

However, any cynicism was instantly dashed from the minute Barnes took to the stage. From the first bar of Take A Chance a wrapt crowd was impressed to say the least.

Rocking through tracks from his latest release Rage And Ruin, mixed with old classics such as Working Class Man, Rising Sun, and Cold Chisel’s biggest hit, You Got Nothing, it was clear that bypass surgery and years of blistering blues had done nothing to damage this man’s pipes.

For a while the masses waited with bated breath to see if the rumours were true – it had been said that Barnes avoids playing tracks from his seminal classic, Freight Train Heart.

Imagine the scene, then, when he rolled into Driving Wheels – the crowd cheered at the prospect of hearing this and more, from what is his most successful album to date. Ride The Night Away and Good Times continued the retro tour de force and Still On Your Side, delivered with such perfection, had his fans misty-eyed and emotional.

Overall a stunning performance was sheer class from start to finish. Barnes continues to have one of the best blues voices in rock today and, should he decide to grace our shores once again, any one of those present in Newcastle would be first in line for a ticket.

Viki Ridley