On a night when Eurovision took centre stage in Norway and Evolution prepared to hit Newcastle the crowds stayed away from what always promised to be a brilliant night in the company of two of Britain’s best young rock bands.
Absence might make the heart grow fonder but the more time you spend in the company of Dear Superstar and New Device the more likely you are to feel your heart racing and your head spinning. Those who missed this missed out for many. many reasons.
Powerage signings New Device are a metal boy band par excellence. So slick you worry they might slip off the stage at any given moment, they must be on the brink of the big time. But that time might never come if Geoff Tate ever quits Queensryche and the Seattle progsters are seeking a ready-made replacement – New Device singer Daniel Leigh is a dead ringer for the big man.
And that’s no bad thing. His command of the high notes is incredible to behold and with backing vocals so impeccably delivered they verge on the robotic there is a melody to New Device which knocks spots off the opposition and, tonight, the headline act. Much as we love Micky and the Dear Superstar boys they were kicked into touch by a band making rapid progress.
New guitarists Gaz Bolan and Shane Lee appear to have slotted into the line-up with consummate ease and tracks like Make My Day, On Fire and Hope Is Not Enough are rolled out with all the class of stadium regulars. And that’s exactly where New Device should be.
There was a time when we felt Dear Superstar would be joining them but for the first time in living memory one of the hardest working bands on the British circuit seem jaded. With time ticking in their quest to deliver album number three and the pressure on to up their game as a live act every night, the massively talented Mancunians are treading water where they once made such a huge splash.
It is perhaps significant that the best song of the night was Sunset Strip Suicide – a track which has been a staple of the band’s live set from the early days – and yet the new material showcased does suggest a revitalised Dear Superstar will emerge sometime soon.
And fair play to main man Micky. With a bust finger and only a handful of fans he still delivered a trademark set belying the obvious fatigue affecting the band as a whole. Even axe master supreme Adam Smethurst, normally the epitome of boundless energy, lacked his usual spark and it may well be time for DS to take a well-earmed break from touring, wrap up album number three once and for all and give their gutter rock and roll a new lease of life later this year.
We’ll miss nights like this if DS do take that break. But fans of this cracking band will accept short-term pain in return for a long-term gain. Roll on that new record.