The Union By John Burrows @ishootgigs@ Newcastle O2 Academy, February 17 2013

Every once in a while a band delivers that performance. You know the one. A show you’re talking about now, a show you’ll be talking about tomorrow and a show you’ll be recalling fondly for years to come. A classic demonstration of strength and unity. A career-defining set. A compelling statement of intent.

The Union saved theirs for Newcastle on a nippy February night. It just so happened to coincide with the band’s promotion from the venue’s smaller room to the main arena. And it was in front of a partisan home crowd always ready to welcome local hero Pete Shoulder back to the North East with open arms. 

Just as new album The World Is Yours – the band’s brand new RUSHONROCK RATED 10/10 record – presents Shoulder in a newly confident light, his live persona has been transformed. Never cocky but always assured, the former Winterville singer commanded the stage like the consummate frontman he had always threatened to become.

For the first time at a Union gig Shoulder stole the show. It’s difficult to avoid fixing a gaze on Thunder’s Luke Morley, such is the Londoner’s ease on the eye when strapped to a flying V. Normally the veteran guitarist is the centre of attention and the star performer – Shoulder playing the role of willing support act alongside a legend of the genre.

In Newcastle top billing was initially shared, then ultimately ceded as The Union’s singer looked every inch the seasoned rock star. Morley looked on like a proud father acknowledging his son’s long awaited coming of age.

With three albums of tear-jerking blues rock under their belts The Union have paid their dues and proved their worth. This is a band fans can invest in, rely upon, celebrate and take immense pride in – The World Is Yours evidence that 2013 is simply the end of the beginning.

A smart setlist fusing the choicest cuts from their sparkling self-titled debut, the pick of follow-up Siren’s Song – an album that could yet go down as The Union’s best – and a selection of new and vibrant numbers offered those in the know an evening of unparalleled musical entertainment.

Early starters had the added bonus of witnessing emerging Brit classic rockers BlackWolf – heavier than the headline act but no less compelling, theirs is a story worth following.

The Union are proof that new bands (albeit, in their case, boosted by old hands) can prosper and with Morley and Shoulder at the helm it seems this precision-crafted quartet can do no wrong. This was the night The Union did everything right.

Simon Rushworth

Picture courtesy of John Burrows @ishootgigs