@Newcastle Think Tank?, October 11 2016
This is the story of John. In his own words John had had a crap day. A crap week. A crap month. In fact, John had put up with a whole load of crap.
Then he discovered the antidote.
Anyone who finds themselves in John’s perilous position need look no further than the Aussie Wrecking Crew tour currently laying waste to club venues the length and breadth of Britain.
From the moment openers Tequila Mockingbyrd hit the stage it became clear crap wasn’t an option. And that was just the start.
The feelgood vibe flowed through fellow countrymen Black Aces before headliners Massive engulfed the audience in waves of rock and roll positivity. John’s smile was as wide as the Tyne. And he wasn’t alone.
Perhaps the fun factor was always guaranteed. It’s impossible to imagine a show featuring 10 Aussies (and a drummer from Marlow who might as well be from Melbourne) being anything less than a wild celebration of raucous riffage. Throw in the fact that a rare day off was on the horizon and all three bands brought the party – and then some.
There’s something reassuringly raw and refreshingly real about the long overdue revival of Antipodean angst: Airbourne might have grabbed the baton from AC/DC but Massive and their ilk represent a second wave of seriously addictive rock from Down Under.
On the face of it this wild tour could swiftly descend into some kind of messed up Club 18-30 style blitz. It could get ugly. Or uglier. But underpinning the frivolous façade is a steely determination: all three bands are on a mission and their mantra is work hard, play hard. It might just pay off.
Tequila Mockingbyrd fuse punk attitude with hard rock swagger. Imposing frontwoman Estelle Artois slots in somewhere between Lzzy Hale and L7’s Donita Sparks – her deep, throaty vocals battling for supremacy up against frenzied rhythm section Jess Riley and Josie O’Toole. On standout tunes I Smell Rock N Roll and the semi-poignant Never Go Home (the band has relocated to the UK following a farewell show back home) it’s a war Artois just about wins.
Black Aces bring the AC/DC-styled garage rock with a cutting edge. Tyler Kinder was a surprise: clearly born to command a stage, the jack-in-a-box frontman blew through Think Tank? like a baby-faced hurricane and took fewer than 20 minutes to win a brand new army of fans. Flanked by uber-cool bass player Alex McMillan, self-assured rhythm guitarist Jazz Morrice and old school tub thumper Pete McMillan (replete with retro AC/DC tee), Black Aces’ singer oozes confidence. Slick renditions of Sick As A Dog and Shot In The Dark piled the pressure on headliners Massive but Brad Marr and co. rose to the occasion.
Almost two years to the day that the endearing quartet made their UK debut at the same venue (the first person to buy the band’s merch in this country was front row), it was time to remind Newcastle of what they’d been missing.
As the self-proclaimed leaders of this rowdy gang of hairy road warriors, Massive are chief destroyers within the aurally destructive Aussie Wrecking Crew. Culling the very best of Full Throttle and latest release Destination Somewhere, Marr and his mates ripped through a set that enlivened the wide-eyed locals and whipped various members of Tequila Mockingbyrd and Back Aces into a fist-pumping frenzy.
With the alcohol flowing as fast as the riffs there was little time to appreciate the finer points of Ghost and Blood Money Blues – both proof that there’s much more to Massive than gonzo rock.
All three bands continue their relentless march towards next month’s Hard Rock Hell X festival in sparkling form. Just ask John.
Images courtesy of Gordon Armstrong