The Radio Sun @ Newcastle Trillians, March 21 2019
Prior to the band’s hotly anticipated return to Trillians, The Radio Sun’s guitarist Steve Janevski took a whistle-stop tour of North Tyneside in a bid to soak up the Borough’s rich rock heritage.
The fret-burning Aussie was bowled over by Whitley Bay’s newly refurbished Dome – on the old Spanish City site referenced by Mark Knopfler on Dire Straits’ Tunnel Of Love – before tucking into his fish and chips at the same Tynemouth restaurant Jimi Hendrix patronised on a fabled trip up north with Chas Chandler.
Earlier Janevski had passed by Wallsend – where a young Sting grew up in the shadow of the Swan Hunter shipyard – but one stop, more than any other, gave the globetrotting Aussie a spring in his step.
The Radio Sun have always referenced Andy Taylor’s I Might Lie, from 1987’s iconic Thunder album, as one of their favourite tracks and greatest inspirations. Passing through Cullercoats, where Taylor would play on his family’s fishing boats as a child, Janevski boasted a smile as wide as the Tyne.
That smile was still writ large across The Radio Sun’s resident axe slinger hours later as he ripped through a red hot version of I Might Lie and a bunch of belting originals that reinforced the Melbourne quartet’s reputation as rising melodic rock royalty.
Fusing hair metal’s heyday with saccharine-sweet AOR-styled harmonies, theirs is a winning formula that continues to deliver. Five albums in five years might suggest that quantity has trumped quality: not so. Should Have Listened To My Heart and Hold On Tight, both culled from 2018’s Beautiful Strangers, stood toe to toe with familiar fan favourites and the customary covers.
By his standards, charismatic frontman Jason Old took a while to bond with the crowd – the singer’s banter is almost as legendary as his pipes – but when he did get chatting the real fun started.
Challenging two Radio Sun virgins to name their favourite artist, with a view to blasting out a few lines from the said act’s back catalogue, the vocalist was, hilariously, lost for words. When the name of American punks Gorgol Bordello was offered up, Old visibly aged. And when a second and third attempt to unearth a familiar name failed it was time to turn to the familiar sanctuary of Winger.
The Radio Sun are both classy musicians and consummate performers. They play their hearts out and play to their strengths. Kicking off with party-starting anthem Tonight’s The Night was a bullish statement of intent and the ensuing 60-plus minutes flew by in a haze of soaring solos and singalong choruses harking back to melodic rock’s glory days.
Building up a British fan base from the other side of the world is no easy task but The Radio Sun aren’t shirkers. Multiple trips to the UK’s HRH festivals have served to pique the interest of the enlightened few – spreading the word and extending their reach is now the primary focus of four amiable Aussies with talent to die for.
And when it comes to amiable, few do it better than Norman McGlen. For a second year on the bounce the North East’s answer to Biff Byford (according to the man himself) was handpicked to open up for The Radio Sun. But all was not as it seemed.
McGlen was meant to be fronting the reformed Paris Dancer but illness within the ranks meant it was a case of same frontman, different band. Classy covers act This Machine stepped in at short notice and a succession of chart-busting anthems shook Trillians to its foundations. And McGlen might have a point when he insisted Gregg’s had missed a trick by failing to rework Thunder’s I Love You More Than Rock And Roll… There’s time yet.
Images By Adam Kennedy