Pat Travers 2013 By John Burrows @ishootgigs@ Newcastle The Cluny, October 7 2013

If this gig is to be remembered for the bizarre disappearance of the Pat Travers DVDs then it’s a crying shame.

There was, of course, much more to a dazzling 90-minute set than the mysterious case of the thief in the night.

But how many times does an irate merchandise manager leap onto stage, interrupt the headline act, point an accusatory finger at every shocked punter out front and preach about the trials and tribulations of life on the road? 

There is, as they say, a time and a place.

And centre stage, in between versions of the brilliant Black Betty and new anthem Diamond Girl, was neither the time nor the place for Tanya to cast an unwelcome shadow over a gig hitherto steeped in nostalgia, mutual appreciation, trust and friendship.

By the end of the show, believing there was a thief in their midst, wholly honest punters had their hands in their pockets, were looking nervously over their shoulders and were fearing something akin to a strip search as they exited a venue hardly synonymous with opportunistic crime.

The individual responsible for stealing two Pat Travers DVDs needs to take a long, hard, look at him – or her – self. Tanya, meanwhile, needs to take care of her business outside of the limelight.

This night was always meant to be about the long-awaited return of the main man. And almost 40 years since Travers first blazed a trail to Newcastle’s Mayfair, the Canadian singer-songwriter was keen to reacquaint himself with Tyneside’s classic rock community.

A heartfelt tale about the Geordie cab driver and a well-spoken lady went down a storm – as did Travers’ admission that it was the Newcastle crowd who first transformed Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights) into a singalong staple of his live set. Its release as a 1979 live single in the UK followed a storming show in the Toon.

But for all the focus on petty crime and pleasing anecdotes it was the music that made this such a special night. Travers may have struggled with the heat – his voice wavering on Can Do – but his guitar work was consistently inspirational. On this evidence it’s little wonder that Metallica’s Kirk Hammet cites the 59-year-old as one of his all-time favourites.

Travers was at one with his various axes – squeezing every last note out of Heat In The Street, Crash And Burn and the iconic US smash hit Snortin’ Whisky. But it was the intro to Stevie that eclipsed just about everything else – Travers caressing the fretboard with a delicacy at odds with his aggressive, raspy, vocal style.

Duly recognising the talent before them, the Cluny faithful needed no second invitation to launch boisterously into a fully interactive version of Boom Boom – evoking memories of those Mayfair nights and hungover days.

The glorious denouement of a double encore saw Travers stripped to the waist, sweating like a pig and indulging in a brilliant version of Black Dog Blues. At that moment nobody could care less about two missing DVDs. Even Tanya was happily flogging copies of Can Do as the row of suspects filed past her merch table and into the freedom of the Newcastle night.

Simon Rushworth

Exclusive image courtesy of John Burrows @ishootgigs