@ Newcastle Hyem, September 16 2010

After two albums with Iron Maiden, Blaze Bayley beat a reluctant retreat from the NWOBHM legends and more than 10 years after the split his solo career is still going strong. Or at least still going.

There were undoubtedly some sound problems at the start of support act Eocene’s set.  From the outset people were left in wonder whether it was the poor sound quality at the venue that was depriving the lead singer of his voice, or simply the fact he was out of key.

Fortunately, Eocene showed up to prove they were not to blame. Dirty Secret was not only a better sound but also the perfect start they deserved in the first place.  Belated Apologies mustered some hard rock energy with a sharp, grungy edge to it.  Their performance only improved further as the tracks rolled on.

For Blaze Bayley, he obviously wouldn’t like his singing style to be compared to Bruce Dickinson.  That’s fair, because despite the fact they both played in the same band at different times, their voices are very different. And that’s just fine.

Bayley stands ardent and tall at the forefront of any stage with his fist beating down and his voice bellowing.  Sound quality in Newcastle was compromised for the best part of the gig, especially with the vocals. But that didn’t stop Bayley trying everything to make it an enjoyable experience for his fans.

In the midst of some frantic guitar solo-ing from Nico Bermudez, he attempted to inspire enthusiasm through hand-clapping within the crowd: it worked for a while but seemed to be a last resort to squeeze some energy from the few people attending.

Having said this, Bayley is more at home with solo life than he ever was during that Maiden voyage.  City of Bones was fantastic, featuring some classic, above stellar guitar picking, with an epic breakdown to match, finally resulting with Bayley’s voice seething through in its full, hollering glory.

Futureal, one of the Maiden songs that he co-wrote, was met with the biggest reception of the night, even though it wasn’t the strongest tune on the set. Robot provided the full bodied head throwing, thrash finale that was craved.

But a speech about leaving the past behind, preceding Voices From The Past, was sadly ironic.  Bayley will put all he has into his performances, without counting crowd numbers and without calculating ticket prices.  And essentially, when it comes to those ethics, men like him are what it’s all about.

But despite an obvious love for what he does, Bayley is living off his reputation as an Iron Maiden frontman. And without that it’s hard to know where the one-time Wolfsbane man would be right now.

Calum Robson