@ Newcastle O2 Academy, February 11 2012

Mention Shinedown to even the most ‘metal’ of your mates and the response has, historically, been ‘who?’.

The band might be arena bothering big hitters on the other side of the Pond but us Brits have been criminally slow when it comes to picking up on one of the best rock acts on the planet.

And yet on this compelling evidence it seems the tide is finally turning in Shinedown’s favour. About time, too.

Newcastle’s Academy was rammed. To the rafters. 

Of course three bands for 15 quid is an austerity-beating deal if ever there was one – indeed there’s an argument that either Shinedown or new Roadrunner label mates Halestorm are worth that admission price alone.

And it was an added value package that clearly resonated with fans ready to rock hard.

After plucky openers Liberty Lies warmed the cockles of the shivering masses the aptly named Halestorm showered the crowd with meaty hooks, piercing riffs and that voice.

Let’s be honest – Lzzy Hale would be worth watching even if she never uttered a word. Yet here is a frontwoman boasting substance as well as style and when she sang alone, mid set, it was simply mindblowing.

Halestorm’s stop gap Hello It’s Mz Hyde EP, coupled with their Shinedown support slot, represents the perfect marketing plan ahead of the April release of new album The Strange Case Of… and it seems certain we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more of the thinking rock fan’s Paramore. This could yet be their year.

Or 2012 could belong to Shinedown. With a new record of their own – Amaryllis – due on March 27 there’s a devilish momentum driving forward a quartet capable of moulding crushing metal with emotive classic rock.

Nastier than Nickelback, beefier than Black Stone Cherry and a more astute version of Alter Bridge it’s little wonder Roadrunner have added the band to their bulging British roster. Four albums into their career confidence isn’t a problem for Brent Smith’s band but the new material showcased here suggests Shinedown’s best years are ahead of them.

And who would have dared say that in the wake of US Top 10 smash The Sound Of Madness? Sales of the band’s titanic 2008 release have topped 1.2 million in their home country with a further 100,000 units shifted outside their bedrock territory (further evidence of their hitherto lop-sided global appeal).

That the new tracks compare favourably with evocative crowd favourites Devour, If You Only Knew, Cyanide Sweet Tooth Cyanide and The Crow And The Butterfly says everything you need to know about Amaryllis. It’s set to be huge. Shinedown huger still.

With a Download berth already booked, Smith in outstanding form and ‘new boys’ Zach Myers and Eric Bass looking like part of the furniture if you haven’t heard of Shinedown yet then make it your new year rock resolution. Believe the hype. Disappointment is not an option. Shine on.

Simon Rushworth