@ Newcastle o2 Academy, July 10 2010

Surfacing at the beginning of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, Blitzkrieg were a huge influence on countless bands in the genre.

Despite surging onto the scene with thunderous force alongside bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Saxon, Blitzkrieg would never gain the mainstream success of them. Nevertheless, in their 30th year their performances are as powerful as they ever have been.

If you like ridiculously high pitched shrieking and full throttle speed, you shouldn’t have missed this night.  North East band Beyond The Grave were nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to metal acts – but they did produce some nice peaceful breaks into their brash sound, and an amazing solo on drums.

Second act Chaos Asylum certainly sent things in a different direction.  It was an act wanting to be Judas Priest or Helloween.  I suppose you can’t blame them, but the whole spectacle was surreal, given the fact frontman Martin McManus was jumping around the stage with audacious energy and tight leather pants.  It all seemed a bit too much.

British four piece Vendetta (not to be mistaken with German thrash band) gave the crowd a ferocious dose of power metal, with a similar sound to Gamma Ray.  With furious rhythm riffs and galloping deep bass lines, Age Of Annihilation was a standout song in the set.  There was an apt tribute to Ronnie James Dio, who would’ve been 68 on the day, had he not passed on.  A version of Holy Diver was met with rapturous applause.

Opening with The Phantom, from their latest album Theatre Of The Damned, Blitzkrieg immediately tore into what would be a riotous overall performance.  Brian Ross may have aged, but he’s still got fire in his belly (albeit a beer belly now).

Unlike other aging frontmen, Ross wasn’t frightened to reach for high notes.  They posed no problem for him. And the old boys really showed up on the night.

My Life Is My Own and Escape From The Village, two songs about cult British television series The Prisoner, were played as one song.  Undoubtedly, Ross has a passion for the series, and it showed in the performance.  Amidst the thrashing force of the guitars and the relentless pounding from Phil Brewis on drums, the chorus was spine-tingling.

Blitzkrieg had the old Mayfair crowd going as well as the youngsters there.  Tortured Souls had the crowd bopping in synchronicity to the bouncy percussion. Before the night ended, more words were said about the late Dio, who Brian Ross had met a few years before.  Paying homage to him, they belted out Mob Rules.

It is a bit of a mystery why Blitzkrieg haven’t gained more attention, especially given the conviction of their performances.  However, it is almost beside the point here.  There was a unifying atmosphere amongst the very diverse crowd – from the old rockers having a reunion, those with their son or daughter, university students and countless more.   If there ever was a good example of an enjoyable metal night it was here.  I think if he were looking down, Ronnie James Dio would be proud.

Calum Robson