@Newcastle O2 Academy 2, April 14 2016
With the inter-city competition relentless – Jeff Lynne’s ELO were at the Arena and UDO/Anvil were rocking the Riverside crowd – it’s heartening to know a triple-bill of cutting edge British rock still appeals to the Toon’s faithful.
And however impressive the shows across town may have been this trio of hard gigging label mates couldn’t have done more to kick off a brief run of British dates in style.
The decision to rotate the headline slot saw Massive Wagons up first in the Toon. With pocket rocket Barry Mills requiring a full throttle performance to compete with a guitar-heavy mix the pressure was one. But with the Wagons rolling, their versatile frontman held his nerve – and the attention of the slowly swelling crowd – to set the bar for the bands that followed.
With latest long player Welcome To The World just weeks away the new material came thick and fast. And in Tokyo, Truth and Shit Sweat Death the Wagons have parked three new classics into what is fast becoming a rollercoaster ride of a live set.
Next up were Trucker Diablo and after bagging a RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 for 2015’s Rise Above The Noise it’s clear the Ulstermen are on a roll.
From the off a succession of simmering hard rock anthems – fusing Nickelback and Black Stone Cherry with fellow countrymen Thin Lizzy – stopped the idle bar chat and fixed the attention for 50 inspiring minutes.
Voodoo may have been the highlight but Girl In The Photograph and new tune Take Me To The River pushed it mightily close. If there was any justice in the world Trucker Diablo wouldn’t have to ‘take a holiday’ to play the pubs and clubs of the UK but the decision to spend their spare time belting out a brilliant array of arena-ready tunes deserves serious respect.
Headliners for the night Screaming Eagles might have been late to the party but the most polished of all three bands shimmered from start to finish. Lacking the raw appeal of Trucker and missing the Wagons’ endearing intensity, the third band of the night simply relied on supreme professionalism.
Perhaps it had taken a couple of hours to get the sound bang on – or perhaps the Eagles were better prepared – but vocalist Chris Fry stole the show by hitting just about every blues-soaked note with the assurance of Coverdale in his pomp.
Wrapping up a treat-filled package of rousing hard rock in style, Fry and co. set the seal on a memorable night for the Off Yer Rocka stable. A second helping can’t come soon enough.