@ Newcastle 02 Academy, February 28 2011

It might not have been Axl-inspired melodrama or great tragedy that forced Japanese Voyeurs to cancel their appearances at Glasgow and Newcastle while on the Rock Sound Tour but vocals are key. And unfortunately front-woman Romily Alice has lost her voice.

When a main headliner pulls out of a gig, common variables of the typical night become even more unsteady.  

Attendance has the potential to dwindle when hordes of hardcore fans decide that the support just isn’t enough and then there’s the uncertainty of who you’re paying to see replace them. Luckily for the now-headlining Dinosaur Pile-Up and The Xcerts, the venue revealed a respectable turnout. But who would fill the gap left?

The answer – two fresh-faced, local support acts with everything to prove. In Oceans were the first of them and what a ballsy bunch they are. The five-piece unexpectedly showcased an intense progressive sound with a Claypool-tinged funky feel at times. With one introduction verging on post-rock shoegaze and other sections rambunctiously flitting into messy noise, their fusions are ambitious as they are exciting. Whilst there were spectacular moments, there’s some further polishing to do that could turn this raw gem into a valuable weird-rock asset.

The second, Boy Jumps Ship, were a more conventional affair.  The local lads burst full of energetic rhythm, readily varied in tempo and emphasized the occasional one-line backing vocal to give a consistent set for those who like their alt-rock with a pop-punk edge.

From the original bill, The Xcerts swiftly introduced their post-grunge essence with easily accessible choruses and electrified vocals.  On dexterous passages Murray MacLeod had the yelping Strokes-esque quality when put through a haze of vocal corruption. But without he had a chameleon charm to slip into a lulling, subtle cry with the fragility of Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull.

Weezer could be a loosely based reference point for those unaware and curious, but essentially the Aberdeen-based band lay down more bass driven sections to not only match the ferocity of the spectacle but also produce a sound that deceives the size of the three-piece band.

Dinosaur Pile-Up’s new chance to headline is met with all the enthusiasm one would expect.  Grungy croonings of classic two-piece harmonies between Matt Bigland and Harry Johns are one of the main attractions but only after the valium-soaked riffs and hypnotic fuzz that splays the stage and epitomizes the up-and-coming Leeds act.

An impressive Mona Lisa was dwarfed by new song Should, which quickly transformed from quirky picked strings to heavy bouts of distortion assisted by a compulsively slogged crash symbol. Slowing the pace drastically, Hey You might have had to go through a seal of approval from fans before allowing it to be aired, but the world-weary ballad proved to be a welcome break in the set until All Around The World ended the action for the night.

As powerful as their live performance is, Dinosaur Pile-Up don’t exceed or build on the decade they’re so obviously influenced by.  If it wasn’t for the fact their influences dangerously border on imitation, then they wouldn’t be compared to the titans in the first place.

They don’t lack in energy or entertainment factor, but it doesn’t take much to realise the real debate here. Is their attempt at grunge simply a copy and paste job on the revival front?

Calum Robson