Idle Hands @Newcastle Trillians, May 7 2019

“Were you there the night Idle Hands played Trillians?”

“Do you remember when you could still see them up close and personal… in a Tyneside basement bar?”

Give it a year, maybe two, and metalheads lucky enough to witness this show may well be uttering those words.

OK, so maybe we’re over-egging the pudding a little. This wasn’t The Sex Pistols’ ’76 ignition at Manchester’s Lesser Trade Free Hall.

But there was just that nice tingle you get – that electric prickle of genuine excitement – when you know you’re seeing a band about to break big.

Idle Hands aren’t a household name yet.

But give it time.

Much of their appeal is down to the über-cool presence – and songwriting talents – of frontman Gabriel Franco. Spellcaster’s former bassist is a man transformed, a glorious, shades-sporting fusion of Glenn Danzig, Andrew Eldritch and Robert Smith, born to sing titanic goth metal anthems like Nightfall , but never descending into rock star schtick.

Humble, genuinely delighted by the crowd’s response and eager to chat to fans off-stage, the singer isn’t letting the hype surrounding Idle Hands’ debut album, Mana go to his head. Trillians isn’t a place where egos run wild, but still, it’s refreshing to see a guy so gracious… and doing his damnedest to make the most of his opportunity.

Let the sweet poison of Blade And The Will and Double Negative flow in your veins, though, and you’ll realise why the Oregon outfit – a quintet when they hit the road – are one of metal’s brightest (or darkest) hopes. Their slick, passionate, chorus-drenched songs, the bubbling cauldron of NWOBHM, 80s rock and goth… it all seems destined to take Franco and co. to arena-level heights.

And the band’s promise is backed by real class when the black clad five-piece stride on stage. Lead guitarist and Spellcaster alumnus Sebastian Silva brings a sparkling level of melodic dexterity to Jackie and By Way Of Kingdom, and sticksman Colin Vranizan keeps the set flowing with verve and imagination. Yet watching Idle Hands as a whole, as a taught, incisive unit, is equally as thrilling.

This clearly isn’t an act just finding their way in the world.

Confident and compelling, Idle Hands look and sound the part, despite this being comparatively early days for the band.

Indeed with just one EP (2018’s Don’t Waste Your Time) and a single full-length to their name,  by the time Idle Hands downed tools they’d used up most of their repertoire.

Luckily for Newcastle, this setlist was a bounty of forbidden fruit. From the sweet melancholy of Can You Hear The Rain to Give Me To The Night’s Maiden meets Cure thrust, it served as a delicious taster for Mana’s release, just days later.

In a couple of years, A&Rs will be desperately searching for the next Idle Hands. For now, let’s just enjoy the band in bars like Trillians… and watch metal’s best kept secret reveal itself.