@ Newcastle O2 Academy 2, June 24 2011

The last time Anvil graced a Newcastle stage was back in 1983 supporting Motorhead.  Nearly 30 years on and many things have changed – time inevitably transforms, buildings fall, people rot.

Anvil are., like us, mere mortals. And while they have obviously aged in physical form, it’s clear that in spirit, they are as fresh and passionate as ever.  

The Canadian three-piece are a band that will always stay true to their pure intentions of playing awesome fucking heavy metal.  Despite having an enormous influence on their peers and withstanding the test of time, they’ve never had their due – but their mighty return suggests that late is most definitely better than never.

When 666 bombastically made it’s presence known, the enigma that is Anvil pervaded through a heavy slab of true metal.  But in doing so, what comes to attention is the child-like innocence of Lips – he’s seriously transfixed by the fantastic reception his band is receiving – and what a reception it is.

The more intimate setting of the Academy 2 is perfect.  Packed out and ready to rock, the long-running heavy metallers brought their sonic assault in the form of both old and new, showcasing well-selected classics and more recent songs from excellent new record Juggernaut Of Justice.

From the master-shredding of Lips, the expert consistency from his long-serving best friend Rob Reiner on drums or the mean bass playing from unsung hero of Glenn Five – Anvil were spectacular.  Whether it be the title track from their latest record, the classic Forged In Fire or the drum solo preceding Fuckeneh, there was a juicy variation in the set that kept everyone hooked from the off.

The Sabbath-esque, occult punisher Thumb Hang was a particular highlight for it’s slowed-down, doomy nature alongside the impressive new track New Orleans Voodoo – but at the same time Winged Assassin sparked a different kind of energy with its more rapid, galloping thrashy constitution.

Crowd involvement was at an ecstatic level by This Is Thirteen, which only further doused each member’s joy and thus producing a better performance.  He might be a grounded chap, but when onstage and in the zone Lips’ joy at every audience reaction and impulsiveness to perform 100% still translates into something that reeks passion.

He has that quirky, fiery wild-intensity in his flitting eyes more than he ever has, especially when performing a song that needs no introduction – Metal On Metal. Anvil don’t re-invent such a tune, but then again, they don’t need to.  The bondage-clad Lips might be gone, but the intensity of the performance certainly not deprived.  Running finished what was one of the best gigs of the year.

Anvil are the antithesis of compromise and through good times and bad, they battle on today to deliver a hot show against the odds.  Maybe things are finally paying off and their hard work is becoming more and more recognised.  2008 documentary The Story Of Anvil might have a lot to do with it, but don’t mistake that for being their sole moment of glory in the limelight – ultimately Anvil deserve it.

Calum Robson