Witchfynde, Stormzone & Blind Haze @Newcastle Trillians, February 27 2020

Britain might have given up on Europe but Europe has never given up on NWOBHM.

And a typically multi-national crowd celebrated a genre in rude health as the unofficial Brofest 2020 pre-show exploded on Tyneside.

Fans from Germany, Spain, Holland and Scandinavia mixed with delirious denim and leather clad Geordies on a night of retro-fuelled heavy metal mayhem.

The beer flowed and the banter was buzzing as three bedevilled bands channelled the power and the glory of the UK’s bullish early 80s scene.

And those playing patch bingo were in for treat as jackets covered in legendary logos paraded the full length of Trillians’ packed bar.

Rushonrock-approved newbies Blind Haze blitzed their set with a furious fusion of heavy rock, doom and metal.

It was almost 12 months ago to the day that we debuted the brilliant Burnin’ Up by the lauded Leeds trio.

And a year down the line a killer tune jostled for position with Snow Queen as the Haze’s unforgettable highlight.

Stormzone reminded the Tyneside massive that they opened up for Tesla across town in 2009 – at a time when melodic rock, rather than power metal, was their stock in trade.

More than a decade down the line, and under the tutelage of Tygers Of Pan Tang alumnus Jess Cox, they’re more Night Demon than Night Ranger.

In fact AOR-tinged debut Caught In The Act seems like a distant memory as Stormzone’s NWOBHM-styled transformation gathers pace.

And given their sharp metal edge, Northern Ireland’s answer to Helloween were the perfect fit to get the Brofest party started.

Another Rainy Night and Three Kings allowed ridiculously talented frontman John ‘Harv’ Harbinson to channel his inner Bruce Dickinson.

And as an assured set reached its riotous conclusion it became clear that Stormzone and Harbinson belong on far bigger stages.

Headliners Witchfynde released two genuine NWOBHM classics in the shape of 1980’s Give ‘Em Hell and Stagefright

And 40 years down the line it’s clear neither record has lost its lure as the Brofest massive blasted out word perfect renditions of both album’s key cuts.

Moon Magic was swathed in eerie brilliance and the title track from Give ‘Em Hell evoked memories of NWOBHM’s fist-pumping heyday.

But Stab In The Back, from 1984’s Luther Beltz-fronted Lords Of Sin, emerged as the evening’s standout cut. Classic, ear-piercing metal at its pin-sharp best.

Main Image By Stefan Rosic