Love-Hate-band@ Newcastle Trillians, March 28 2013

It might have taken the best part of 30 years but Love/Hate have finally nailed it. Even better here than their blast of a Newcastle Academy show four years earlier, the sleaze metal kings are enjoying a royal flush of form with guitar hero Keri Kelli the real star right now.

It takes something – or someone – special to eclipse the pocket rocket that is Jizzy Pearl but one of rock’s most underrated fret burners is the man for the job. Alice Cooper axeman Kelli arrived on stage wearing a skeleton mask but make no bones about it: on current evidence he’s head and shoulders above the majority of his more feted peers. 

Benefiting from the kind of sound no band could reasonably expect from a tiny club tucked away in a Tyneside basement, Love/Hate sensed an opportunity. It was a chance they grasped with open arms as an incendiary set surprised Trillians regulars and new faces alike.

Pearl may have rolled out the cheesy line that Newcastle was the best crowd of the tour to date but it’s possible he was right. Responding to the on-stage ribaldry, the Thursday night masses thronged to the front and bought into every wild shape and daft line Pearl could muster.

A frontman with natural charisma, Love/Hate’s leader can always fall back on the songs. Just as it was when the band conquered Newcastle in 2009, the standout was She’s An Angel – a tune that always suited Pearl’s high-pitched range but allowed the party master to showcase his emotive side.

Straightjacket presented Pearl with the polar opposite challenge – delivering angsty lyrics that still smack of immaturity, aggression and a loss of control 23 years after they punctuated the home stretch of Blackout In The Red Room. Unsurprisingly he pulled it off. And then some.

Eschewing the traditional encore – the short trip to Trillians kitchen and back never seems worth the bother – Love/Hate sensibly stayed on stage to celebrate their triumphant finale. A rousing cover of Motorhead’s Ace Of Spades allowed Kelli another chance to rip it up while set closer Blackout… brought the house down.

On the day Trillians unveiled its brand new Hall Of Fame board – a permanent record of the best bands to have graced the venue during the last 20 years – Love/Hate provided the soundtrack to a suitably raucous celebration.

With Pearl the jewel in the crown and Kelli intoxicating there’s life in the old band yet. Expect at least One More Round.

Simon Rushworth