lagunstikLA Guns/Fables Last Stand @ Newcastle Legends

INME @ Newcastle o2 Academy

Jeff Fest 2009 @ Newcastle Trillians

September 17, 2009

Rock is, and always has been, a broad school. And on a balmy early autumn night in the heart of Newcastle a clutch of cool bands did their level best to prove the point.

None  more so than INME. Just two days after Ben and Simon were injured in a road accident, a trimmed version of the band turned up and tuned up at Newcastle. Against all odds Dave McPherson and his trusty rhythm section delivered a set bristling with energy and laughing in the face of adversity. But then that’s INME all over these days.

When Dave dedicated You Won’t Hear From Me Again to the absent Ben it seemed that wrist injury was worse than imagined. INME’s frontman quickly relaised his mistake, had a good old chuckle, and explained his axe slinging buddy would be back around November time. Perhaps these modern rock titans should travel via All Terrain Vehicle from now on – but for now the tour goes on.

INME’s show was, in fact, stop number three on the rushonrock Rockathon and by 9.30pm we’d already caught a fine and dandy set from local favourites Fables Last Stand and, due to Legends running late, only a glimpse of Jen and the mighty Remedy. Seeing everything we wanted to see was always going to be a big ask but missing the bulk of our fave female-fronted rock act’s Trillians set was an early blow.

Fables, fresh from completing the mix on debut album Love & Exile, have clearly been practicing hard. And not just when it comes to the nuts and bolts of their old skool sleaze rock anthems. A series of perfectly staged rock poses and even a touch of choreography suggest these boys are determined to up their game before an upcoming tour of Finland.

Fables have always sounded like the natural heirs to the Quireboys’ Tyneside throne but these days they’re beginning to look the part too. Classy tunes like Japanese Rain and Drag The Stone deserve to be haerd by a wider audience and, who knows, maybe sometime soon they will be.

Having caught the (very) back end of Remedy it would have been rude to depart Trillians before the start of Knuckledragger’s set. But if the start was anything to go by then those who stayed the course would have been nursing some seriously damagaed eardrums. Loud, heavy and nasty stuff. Hence the decision to seek sanctuary back at Legends.

But that run of bad luck with female-fronted bands continued as, apart from observing a rather meandering cover of WASP’s I Wanna Be Somebody, there was little chance to run the rule over Nasty Tendency. Nice silver pants though.

After a brief but fulfilling blast of INME it was back to legends to catch the Tracii Guns/Jizzy Pearl fronted version of LA Guns. Pearl (cheers Viki) was a pale shadow of the frenzied frontman who had brought Love/Hate to life in Newcastle less than two weeks earlier but then that was his band. LA Guns isn’t.

It’s Tracii’s and anyone who caught hair metal solo upon hair metal solo from one of America’s finest axemen would realise as much. The (minor) hits still sound cool and there’s no doubting the quality of the band’s founding member but for LA Guns to mean anything during their 20th anniversary they have to be more than a vehicle for one talented musician.

It’s all about the band and always has been.

There was still time to catch a couple of songs from Dryll – fronted by Venom founder member Mantas as the raucous Jeff Fest came to a suitably edgy close. The little man himself would have delighted in seeing so many old faces, and a fair few new ones, supoorting some of the finest rock talent the region has to offer. Such a shame that the night clashed with two other big gigs across town but that’s another story…

Well done to Big Gordon, Simon and the guys for making it work – and for making some serious money – in spite of the obvious competition. And here’s to the next Rockathon, wherever it may be.