@ Newcastle O2 Academy 2, October 20 2011

Perhaps it was the pressure of playing in front of a packed home crowd, or maybe Pete Shoulder just couldn’t wait to deliver one of the finest songs of his career.

Whatever the reason for muddling up the setlist, and introducing the spine tingling Come Rain Or Shine prematurely, it wasn’t a problem for the wrapt masses. Whatever song was up next, one thing was for certain: it would be a winner. 

For a band still lacking truly identifiable singalong anthems, The Union possess a wonderful knack for involving their fans in what must be one of the most emotive and powerful shows on the live circuit.

On their two albums to date Shoulder and Luke Morley have often struggled to bring their obvious songwriting craft to the fore. New album Siren’s Song goes some way towards addressing that minor flaw but it’s in the live arena where the very best tracks from both of the band’s blues rock growers take on a whole new life.

With baby-faced Scot Dave McCluskey joining Thunder stalwart Chris Childs to create an effective yet understated rhythm section there’s suddenly a sense that a band that has spent the past 12 months bubbling under is finally on the brink of exploding all over the classic rock scene.

Marry some of the finest blues-based songs penned by any UK act in the last decade with a quartet of musicians dedicated to delivering the ultimate live show and success is a given. And if The Union are still skirting somewhere beneath your rock radar then it’s high time you headed out and witnessed the birth of a new national treasure.

Aside from encore opener Come Rain Or Shine, the title track from Siren’s Song and the magnificent Lillies offered conclusive proof that this is a band that must be seen to be believed.

Shoulder’s ability to juggle ambitious vocals with some seriously cool guitar work is a joy to behold while Morley must love the laid back vibe peddled by The Union after so many years acting as the energetic foil to pocket rocket Danny Bowes.

Laid back it may be. But that’s not to say The Union coast through their shows to the point of laziness. These four men are on a serious mission to bring a unique brand of soulful rock, rooted in North East England, to the masses. Supremely talented, switched on and (Shoulder’s stumble aside) singing from the same hymn sheet, The Union men are ready to strike.

Simon Rushworth