@ Newcastle O2 Academy II, December 11 2011

What better way to celebrate the eve of your 58th birthday (there’s no way he can be that old) than by getting hot and sweaty in a tiny Tyneside club on the middle Sunday of December?

That’s exactly what Dan Baird chose to do – and did it so well – alongside his Homemade Sin brethren at one of the finest rock n roll shows you’ll see all year. 

Featuring three quarters of the sensational yet underrated Georgia Satellites it would be easy for Baird and his buddies to pack a two-hour set with nothing but 80s favourites.

Yet a smattering of Satellites standards – including a Sheila-inspired medley, the classic Keep Your Hands To Yourself and Railroad Steel – were almost overshadowed by a mix of classic covers and sleazy Homemade Sin material.

Baird is at the stage in his career where he plays what he wants to play and does it all with a great big toothy smile on his face. Alongside partner in crime Warner E. Hodges it’s like watching two kids in a rock n roll candy shop, living out their childhood dreams in the bodies of men for times their age.

The consummate ease with which this seasoned quartet make such a tight set appear like a garage jam is testimony to the talent on show.

And for all the awful dad dancing on the sticky Academy floor there was a peculiarly carefree atmosphere underpinning a very special show.

The heartwarming rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ – led by Hodges and lapped up by a grinning Baird – set a unique seal on a crazy night. And if the level of sweat pouring from the chief protagonist is a barometer of just how good a gig really is then this was the set of a lifetime from Homemade Sin’s soaking frontman.

Those searching for a highlight – and of course there were so many – didn’t need to look any further than the fantastic I Love You Period. Boasting Baird’s trademark wry writing style and complemented by Hodges’ way cool guitar work it was yet another example of why this band – and its main man – deserve so much more respect and recognition.

Knocking on 60 Baird, of course, couldn’t give two hoots about what the critics might say. He’s been there, done that and bought the T-shirt – though perhaps not the classic white 1988 Satellites tour shirt worn proudly by the devoted female fan centre stage.

These days it’s all about having the very best time possible and in that respect the boy Dan almost always delivers.

At the other end of the career path is Newcastle’s very own Richard McMahon. Formerly of the Mike Fraser-produced classic rockers Fables Last Stand, the newly solo singer songwriter has shared stages with Ian Hunter, UFO and the Quireboys in the past.

On this occasion he shared it with another guitarist and a drummer – the latter playing what looked like a bingo but it clearly wasn’t – to serve up a warming acoustic set culled from the debut album The Illustrated Man.

There’s a rakish charm about McMahon and the fact that he turned up at the venue without any albums – due to the fact that he ‘couldn’t afford to press any’ – almost added to the endearing quality of an honest musician capable of writing memorable songs for our time.

It has to be hoped we’ll see much more of the ‘Geordie Frank Turner’ in 2012. And until he scrapes together to cash to make some more CDs we’re reliably informed his latest work is available on line….

Simon Rushworth