351374_1_falling-red_400@ Newcastle Trillians, October 10 2013

Classic double bills: Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back; Michael McIntyre and Sarah Millican; fish and chips; Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs (seriously?). Now it’s time to add Falling Red and New Device to that esteemed list.

Two of British rock’s most vibrant acts teamed up for a co-headline tour designed to push new albums and, in the case of New Device, remind the masses what all the fuss was about four years ago. 

Barely recognisable from the line-up that released critically acclaimed debut Takin’ Over via the now defunct Powerage label in 2009, the ‘new’ New Device returned to Newcastle armed with fresh songs, a fresh attitude and fresh focus.

It was enough to suggest there’s still plenty of life left in a quartet who play and sound like grizzled arena veterans. On this evidence there’s time yet to get back to where they belong – opening up for big name acts like Bon Jovi in front of 20,000-plus and destroying the competition at Download.

That was then but it could be again. Second album Here We Stand – featuring the band’s latest line-up – was released earlier this summer and features a slew of hard rock classics evoking Skid Row, The Almighty and Gun at their early 90s best. Hard rock has never gone out of fashion but tunes like Kingdom Of The Damned and Save Your Life can breathe new life into a genre treading water.

Falling Red had a tough act to follow but the assured foursome delivered the set of their lives on a fiery return to form. Revelling in all of their northern glory, the glammed-up rabble rousers may have ditched some of the sleaze and a portion of cheese but their new sound is simply spellbinding.

Looking like the bastard sons of Motley Crue and Love/Hate, these days there’s much more than meets the eye to the opening act on Steel Panther’s most recent UK headline tour. New album Empire Of The Damned – completed earlier this year following a successful Pledge Music campaign – boasts a harder edge, a sense of steely determination and the belief borne out of hours spent crisscrossing the country in search of hungry crowds.

It’s a fact: Falling Red are all grown up. And their maturity added serious weight to a sensational statement of intent in front of a familiarly partisan Trillians crowd. The Devil You Know and We Escaped A Cult wiped the floor with anything this quartet had previously played live while lead single We Are Reckless was a riveting example of post-sleaze power.

Jayde Starr (a distant relation to Panther’s Michael) may still be too cool for school with his ‘oh-so-hair metal’ BC Rich axe and dead-eyed lack of emotion but he’s a perfect fit for raucous frontman Rozey. Imbued with more energy than a barrel of Red Bull and coolly coping with the drunken mess that was arm-waving Cal, Falling Red’s iconic leader raised his game and raised the roof.

If two British bands deserve to break through in 2014 it’s this pair of genuine homegrown heroes. Do your bit and back the future.

Simon Rushworth