Virginmarys Small@ Newcastle Think Tank, March 2 2013

Think Tank is all about how rock ‘n roll used to be. The concrete floors and bare walls, draped with electric wires and with a bare minimum of lights all come together to create a stripped-down feel to the gig. It was raw. It was how The Virginmarys’ music was designed to be played.

The Virginmarys themselves were also raw – but in the sense that you assume they haven’t had much gig experience and are still building an on-stage persona for themselves. 

There may not have been any light show but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any action. Their music sounds like it was made for the live arena and lead singer Ally Dickaty’s voice was ‘rock n roll’ – it came through even stronger than it does on impressive album Kings of Conflict.

Dickaty and his band worked their way quickly through the set, opening up with Just A Ride, before progressing through Out of Mind and My Little Girl – built from the drums into a soaring crescendo.

Danny Dolan behind drums might have looked like a traditional French mime (minus the white face) but this was no pantomime performance from him. He gave everything for the cause, often standing up to deliver his blows to the drum kit.

There was a clear difference in the crowd reaction between the songs from Kings Of Conflict and the songs from their mini-album Cast The First Stone. The majority of the fans were clearly there to hear Dead Man Shoes and Portraits of Red.

The first time that Dickaty took the time to address the crowd was before Dead Man Shoes, where he clumsily and somewhat cheesily dedicated the song to all those who had bought he album. Apart from that, the next time that he properly interacted was before the last two songs, Stripped and Bang Bang Bang, where he said: “What would normally happen now is that we would pretend the gig is over – and go freeze out balls off outside. But we have nowhere to go so we’ll just pretend that happened.” As little as it was, the crowd loved it. Something to work on, perhaps?

The Virginmarys need to hone their stage craft and interaction if they want to take what was a good performance – raw, yet still clean and crisp – and turn it into a great one. But the potential – like the songs – is clearly there.

Russell Hughes