Blue Öyster Cult @ Newcastle O2 Academy, February 24 2019
It was 1976 when Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom first assured fans that there was no need to be afraid of death’s omnipresent shadow. More than 40 years later and Blue Öyster Cult’s 70-something duo are more likely to be looking over their shoulders and yet this was a show of strength and determination from two defiant old pros.
Unfairly judged on the strength of that one big hit – the New Yorkers have never troubled the singles charts since – this was a golden opportunity to remind the masses that there’s more to BÖC than the iconic (Don’t Fear) The Reaper.
A set rich in variety, melody, humour and more, successfully proved the point. Three dates into their latest dart across the Atlantic and a band fast approaching its 50thanniversary delivered the consummate hard rock show.
This was a set that casually spanned eras and dug deep into a back catalogue bursting with criminally ignored genre classics. An early contender for standout track was the brooding Patti Smith collaboration Career Of Evil – the uncompromising lyrics and dark refrain showcasing the nastier side of these otherwise likeable gents.
Minor MTV hit Burnin’ For You still sounds like the monster chart buster that never was with its irresistible hook and dreamy vocal melody, while fan choice Harvest Moon lit up the first half hour of an illuminating set.
Those seeking out something extra special – a genuine highlight to be forever etched in the memory – found it in the meandering Then Came The Last Days Of May. BÖC were always capable of squeezing so much more out of a song than so many of their more celebrated peers and here was the definitive case in point.
Godzilla, by contrast, still sounds like brainless gonzo rock but one false turn can surely be forgiven. …Reaper and all, this was a reassuringly triumphant trip down memory lane.
And following the evening’s first band would always require something special.
It’s brave, bordering on the foolhardy, to invite The Temperance Movement to open up your show. Peerless when it comes to pulling off the ultimate rock and roll performance, it’s little wonder large swathes of a capacity crowd had paid good money – and queued around the block – to catch every minute of the magnificent support act. Long term devotees of the Anglo-Scots collective could have felt cheated by the criminally short nine-song set if it weren’t for the fact that quality has always outweighed quantity where The Temperance Movement is concerned.
That the band casually kicked off with Only Friend is testimony to the depth of mind-blowing material at their disposal in 2019. There was a time when a relatively sparse catalogue demanded that the raucous, fist-pumping anthem was saved until last. Now The Temperance Movement are spoilt for choice as they mine a rich seam of tunes spread across three seminal British rock records: Built-In Forgetter, from last year’s A Deeper Cut and Midnight Black, from 2013’s self-titled debut, wrapped up a set that resonated with early adopters and new converts alike. Headliners in all but name, the band’s next Newcastle visit can’t come soon enough.
Images By Adam Kennedy