@ Newcastle Trillians, December 5 2010

Classic rock is alive and kicking. And if there was any doubt before this trio took Tyneside by storm then by the end of the night the unequivocal proof was there for all to see.

The headline act are, of course, old stagers when it comes to delivering memorable live shows and as recently as January the revitalised Enuff Z’Nuff did just that in Newcastle with the mighty Faster Pussycat in tow. Twelve months down the line and Chip and his buddies show no signs of taking their collective foot off the pedal – this short but sweet set following hot on the heels of a Hard Rock Hell set in Prestatyn. And as the man himself reminded us, 2010 has been a big, big year for a band which never quite fulfilled its potential 20 years ago – their summer sets at Download, in particular, drawing warm praise from fans and critics alike.

But where Enuff Z’Nuff have two decades of hard rocking experience under their belts these are still early days for the best of British – in this case Falling Red and the super confident Jettblack. The former, regular visitors to the North East and building up a strong local fan base as a result, remain one of the hardest working bands on the circuit and their heady mix of sleaze, punk and hard rock is damn near perfect.

Jettblack are an altogether slicker outfit. Shiny white guitars, expensively coiffured hair and rippling muscles are fused with big choruses and an even bigger ambition. This lot clearly don’t see themselves tied to the club circuit for very much longer and if tracks like Two Hot Girls come across as a little too Steel Panther then there’s no doubt they’re ready made for arenas. When It Comes To Lovin’ is the best of a pretty polished bunch and expect to see these boys gracing festival stages the world over next summer.

Enuff Z’Nuff have been there, done that and got the T-shirt. But it’s great to see them doing it all over again and, at the same time, getting back to their roots and loving every minute. In the current inclement conditions it takes a fairly committed bunch of fair weather-loving Americans to trek from North Wales to the North East for the sake of an hour in the company of the committed few. But Chip and the boys don’t come across as a quartet prepared to let Mother Nature come between them and the chance to play live.

In Fly High Michelle and New Thing Enuff Z’Nuff boast two of the all-time late 80s classics and both still sound as sweet today as they did 21 years ago. Too intricate to deserve the hair metal label and yet as uplifting as any sugar coated anthem of the era, the only surprise is that neither single broke the Billboard Top 40.

Frontman Donnie Vie made it abundantly clear that he can still hit the high notes and his canny use of understated cool and complete professionalism makes for a consummate performance. There’s more to this band than their Top 75 debut album but that self-titled gem has never been surpassed during a career which has spawned a remarkable dozen or so studio records. Perhaps that irks Donnie and Chip but you wouldn’t know it watching them live – this is smile-on-your-face singalong heaven and two more visits in 2011 wouldn’t go amiss.

Simon Rushworth