@ Newcastle O2 Academy II, May 18 2011

Black Spiders have long been doused in the flammable potential of burning stardom but the rock world is still waiting for someone to strike the match.

For a band that formed in 2008, it’s been a relatively short road so far. But the process of gaining positive attention has heightened to a serious state and they’ve had to adapt quickly – crucially seeking to ease into their newly found and ever-busier, platformed environment. 

The Spiders’ emotions may be in such a state of flux that they can be excused an almost fickle desire to change with the wind – through a furious tirade of shock, excitement and uncomfortable embracement of the more-than up-and-coming act they’ve become. But for the headliners this show posed far more questions than it answered.

Japanese Voyeurs were cruelly robbed of their chance to play their last planned gig in Newcastle after lead singer Romily Alice lost her voice, forcing Dinosaur Pile-Up to step up in the bill as headliners for the Rocksound Tour. Fortunately the Voyeurs had no probelm in making up for lost time and, in hindsight, the only criticism of their set could be that it wasn’t long enough.

The London-based grunge mob began the evening superbly. Whether they intend to or not, they’re going to single-handedly carry the beacon for modern grunge music, despite dabbling sonically in alt rock and heavier persuasions. Their bass-driven style was championed by Johnny Seymur, constituting to a debauched atmosphere that suggest a few dirty grains of Nick Cave got under the fingernails.

Alice’s dynamic voice ranges from soft yet flamboyant inflections to unassuming neurotic yelps – all of which are spectacularly showcased in the kind of heart-on-sleeve attitude that would decorate cuff links in barbed wire if the experience artistically and empirically benefit them. The multitude of excitement heightened further in the set with a flurry of synth verses to coincide with noise tendencies, topping off what was a tightly woven, experimental entity working in cohesion to create a unique performance.

Some react with a twisted eyebrow raise – and with general wonder – at Black Spiders’ propelled status. But for many present in Newcastle they certainly burnt away any cobwebbed inhibitions.

There’s no doubt that the ingredients for a recipe of popularity are evident. Kiss Tried To Kill Me best epitomises the fun side of the five-piece with some fine, straight-up, hard rocking vivacity that no doubt won over the hordes. With a good dose of humour assuring they don’t entirely take themselves seriously in the track, this is the route for them if they’re to become a parody-driven entity. Which they should.

Their sound is manipulated and stratified by a stranglehold of overly-dominant influences that surely suggest they’d be successful as Spinal Tap’s standard bearers. Just Like A Woman was dedicated to Ozzy (the band’s lead guitarist) before the song demonstrated Black Spiders’ Aerosmith attempt. Journey Into The Meadow broke down nicely into an interlude of solitary singing from Pete ‘Spider’ Spiby alongside some bended notes of guitar soloing that Spider described as ‘spiritual rock’.

At the best of times it’s hard to tolerate daft black metal stage names that are impossible to take seriously, never mind Black Spiders’ silly ones, so when it comes down to adopting ‘Ozzy’ as your nickname, it’s generic idiocy or parody that has determined such things.

Presently, the caricature is missing. It’s like there’s a hole at the central foundation of inspiration that they constantly stuff with a ‘proven’ yet overdone and ultimately dull mentality. Understandably you don’t have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ – hard rock might be a culprit just as much as any other genre in the percentage of unoriginal material that dominates it.

All in all, you don’t have to head a revolution to garner success and for Black Spiders success will manifest itself in sheer numbers from a mentality that screams – “get the people on board, we don’t care how”. This emerges in the poorly developed ideas on stage, with the over-the-top, middle-finger ‘fuck you’ rally and babbling banter that disrupted the show too often.

Whilst it’s clear just why they’ll go on to convert more, I can’t help but feel indifferent to joining the party of a band that have an identity carved from flogged cliches, mindless ideas (and lyrics not to mention) and who are full of their own pomp. The pomp would be fine if they could carry off their smarmy arrogance with the conviction of a full-blown spoof or at least embody a deficiency or trait to separate them from the rest of the pile.

Call me arachnophobic but I’m personally deterred. Still, it won’t be a surprise if the Spiders expand an already respectable following.

Calum Robson