blackhole2@ Newcastle o2 Academy 2, September 14 2009

Frontman Rich Carter promised this would be a no-holds-barred demonstration of pure punk rock fury. And fair play to the lad, he was as good as his word.

Only four songs into a frenetic set he was right in the middle of the 40 or so fans huddled in awe of a young head on old shoulders. The art of showmanship is not dead just yet.

If Carter and his crew continue their recent upward curve then it could be alive for some time yet. Never appearing totally comfortable even on the smaller of the two Academy stages, Carter was a different animal down among his people on a sticky, sparsely populated floor. Urging those present to gather even closer it was like watching a modern day preacher engage fully with his wrapt congregation.

There was a certain intensity about tonight’s quick and slick Blackhole show sadly lacking in the repertoire of so many more experienced bands. Call it youthful exuberance if you like but it’s more than that. Twenty years on Carter will still be throwing himself in at the deep end – otherwise you sense this spitting ball of energy will simply walk away and call it a day.

Of course it’s not all about the frontman. In fact those of us with an ear for classic rock and old skool metal riffs swiftly warmed to eccentric lead guitarist Andreas Yiasoumi. A commanding presence in every sense, his fret work on current single Scared To Change and the NWOBHM-tinged roar underpinning My Lord provided the perfect yin to Carter’s yang.

Not That This Is A Bad Thing might be touching 80,000 MySpace plays but it’s a tune made for the live arena and Carter’s gutteral growl. At this point his assembled throng were close enough to bestow a group hug on their best new friend and it seems interracting with fans is back in fashion. Blackhole aren’t in fashion just yet but this music could become the soundtrack to a recession-repressed youth.

Oh, and it’s not plain and simple punk. Not in our book anyway. There’s just masses of metal for the metal masses. And that’s no bad thing these days.