papaphoto@ Newcastle o2 Academy, October 13 2009

It’s always a blow when you miss Heaven’s Basement but it wasn’t our fault, honest. Fortunately the first band on tonight are back in the Toon in December and we will be too.

So that left Madina Lake to pick up the pieces and just how these emo-tinged pretty boys from Chicago would raise the rushonrock spirits was anyone’s guess. A rather generous six out of 10 review for their latest record Attics To Eden didn’t bode well but it seems the Leone brothers and their buddies are a different animal live.

Nathan Leone is never going to be one of rock’s great singers but he might just make it as one of the genre’s most charismatic frontmen. Far from hampered by his obvious vocal limitations, the edgy singer almost self combusted such was his incredible energy level. And running around like a madman is one way to hide the fact that you can barely hold a note.

Of course rock is littered with legendary leaders who aren’t so great at singing in tune. Delivery is everything and Leone’s confident – yet never cocky – swagger had a capacity Academy in raptures. Perhaps the band needs to have a word with those responsible for producing and mixing their latest offering as they’ve done a dog’s dinner of a job in terms of truly representing a very watchable combo.

Madina Lake said they’d be back in early 2010 and on this showing we’ll be right back with them.

So with the crowd well and truly warmed up, nu metal old stagers Papa Roach brought their remodelled brand of sleaze rock to the party. And what a party it proved to be. Jacoby Shaddix can sing – and rouse an audience – but here is a performer who is blossoming over time. If his spitting image isn’t to everyone’s liking, and his addiction to the F-word is often painful, then there’s much to admire in a vocalist who must have believed he’d had his time.

That time started with the nu-metal classic Infest and it’s chart-busting single Last Resort. Yet in 2009 that anthemic track sounds cheerless, charmless and chuckaway cheesy compared to the band’s latest material. Still the natural pick for the encore it’s incredible just how lame it sounds next to the likes of Lifeline, I Almost Told You That I Loved You and Hollywood Whore.

Papa Roach’s stealthy transformation into an increasingly credible hard rock act is underpinned by the outstanding tracks which pepper the aptly titled Metamorphosis. And even The World Around You, from the critically acclaimed Paramour Sessions record, pales into insignificance alongside the band’s 2009 vintage.

Getting Away With Murder may have been the song of the night but for some it’s not a tune which belongs on the Papa Roach setlist. Thankfully Shaddix and his crew recognise the triumph that is the title track to their lowest charting album to date and they play it anyway.

It’s that ‘fuck it we don’t care’ attitude which has brought this endearing band back to the brink of the big time and with shows like this they fully deserve their place at rock’s top table. Now the trick is maintaining the consistency and quality which makes Metamorphosis one of the most listenable records of the year. Do that and Papa Roach will be all-powerful once again.