image003@Newcastle Think Tank?, April 24 2015

There was no crowd, no monitor and no care in the world – but there was talent. The people of Newcastle might have been poorer for missing Brawlers’ show, but the pubs won’t be as lead singer Harry Johns announced his intention to out-drink anyone who dared him on.

Dogged by persistent sound problems, the modern day punks carried on regardless ‘because that’s what punk rock n roll is, right.’ And anyway, just because you can’t hear the words doesn’t mean you can’t see the intent in which they are sung. 

Think Tank at Digital is beginning to get a reputation for unreliable sound but how much of that is down to the sound technician on the day is up for debate.

All that’s clear is that Brawlers can easily forge themselves a path in music, but it takes nights like this where the three bands on show nearly outnumber the crowd to remind aspiring musos that making it is never easy.

But when the songs are as catchy as Drink and Dial, Two Minutes and Mothers and Fathers is, it shouldn’t take too many nights putting money into the pockets of publicans up and down the country before fame and success come calling.

While more Geordies gathered for headline act Max Raptor, the venue was still well under capacity.

The Burton rockers have some indisputable political leanings – even though the population is split along party lines, they still manage to unite the crowd.

While there is nothing new about combining music with politics, the way the band plays brings people together in a way the parties of the UK could only dream about.

The meagre audience was still on form though and even lapped up the couple of new songs the band played from an album due sometime next year. The people weren’t there to watch songs they didn’t know being played and the foursome delivered songs like Brawlers, Back Of A Barrel Wave and Patron Saint (Of Nothing) with a polish and a fire that was begging for a pit to form – if only there was a bigger crowd.

Frontman Wil Rey likes to get in the face of everyone as he sings and, as ever, is an instantly likeable character. He’s a wise cracker, a joker and an old school rocker all rolled into one – and the people love it.

Max Raptor finished off with The King Is Dead, and must have been wondering if the same applied to the Newcastle gig scene.

Russell Hughes