@ Newcastle Legends, April 9 2012

The success of Dutch rock fiesta Roadburn and Camden’s inaugural Desertfest are proof that the power of the riff – in whatever genre it’s unleashed  – is as life-affirming as ever.

Tagged as doom/stoner in their early years, Orange Goblin have long since broken free of straightjackets, but their commitment to catchy, groovy riffathons remains. 

This tour, on the back of RUSHONROCK Album Of The Week A Eulogy For The Damned, saw the Londoners headline Desertfest and also make a welcome appearance on Tyneside following the cancellation of a show in Derby. And that city’s loss was definitely Newcastle’s gain.

Opening act, Tyneside quintet Druganaut, have been making waves in the North East underground and this support slot – their most high profile to date – saw them step up in style.

With riffs forged in the fires of Mount Doom and dipped in the Louisiana bayou, there was a solid NOLA influence on show – but far from being generic Down-a-likes, Druganaut have a sound of their own, and they demonstrate some good old fashioned songwriting suss too.

Every track aired last night was greeted with high praise from a steadily growing audience and newie Black Death Mistress, with its double bass bludgeon, hinted at darker things to come. Ones to watch.

The response to amiable Plymouth rockers Grifter saw more head nodding than head banging,  however, with their stripped down, scuzzy boogie a little too light for this crowd. Initial scepticism gave way to a warmer response though, with a few new fans won over by the time the trio downed tools.

A Eulogy For The Damned came five years after Orange Goblin’s last opus, but the wait evidently didn’t dent Orange Goblin’s North East’s fanbase, which had packed out Legends by the time Scorpionica’s distinctive riff blared from the PA.

Towering frontman Ben Ward simply dominated the stage last night, with his band producing a masterclass in heads-down, groovy hard rock that harked back to a time when pro-tools were a Tomorrow’s World fantasy and there was no need to pigeon-hole anyone as ‘doom metal’ or ‘space rock’.

A Eulogy… made its presence felt, with Red Tide Rising, The Fog, Stand For Something and Death of Aquarius all fine examples of OG’s maturing style.

The quartet weren’t afraid to vary the pace either: the wistful, mellow strains of Time Travelling Blues gave the front row some respite, while Quincy The Pigboy sparked a mini-mosh.

Orange Goblin have a reputation as one of the UK’s best live acts and this intimate show confirmed they’ve lost none of their presence, power or ability to connect with fans.

Their gigs are parties – celebrations even – and last night was a rabble rousing, hell raising blowout that raised a glass in praise of a truly endearing British metal institution.

Richard Holmes