The Soap Girls/Pussy Willow Furry Venus/Dirty Rock N Roll @Newcastle Trillians, July 3 2019

For more than a decade Dirty Rock N Roll have proudly boasted that they’re ‘the best band you’ve never seen’. But don’t beat yourself up about it. Honestly. It’s really not your fault.

When it comes to live shows the cult Toon trio are far from prolific – in fact they’re the Joselu of the local gig circuit. 

But absence makes the heart grow fonder. And it’s fair to say quality has always trumped quantity where Adam [Barnes, vocals], Lee [Armstrong, bass] and Phil [Davies, drums] are concerned. The band’s third show of 2019 (by their standards, a heavy schedule) provided a welcome blast of no-holds-barred riffola with a reassuring shot of Bullet harking back to Dirty Rock N Roll’s glory days. Remember them?

There’s no doubt Davies – a drummer in demand judging by his current commitments – adds a thundering touch of genuine class to an eye-catching trio and his rabid rap on set closer Gangsta’s Paradise brought the house down. Armstrong’s neat fretwork is a glorious amalgam of Billy Sheehan and Mark King and the bassist’s versatility allows Barnes, the larger than life former basketball pro, to flourish. No wonder tickets are selling fast for the band’s next run of shows…mooted for late 2025.

Next up were Pussy Willow Furry Venus. And if you’ve never seen Sunderland’s punk-fuelled, alt rock misfits then you’ve never lived. Or you’ve had a very, very lucky escape. Depending on your definition of a live rock band. 

If shy bairns get nowt then PWFV must have the world at their feet: self-confidence courses through the veins of showboating frontwoman (or front bitch as she prefers to be known) Steph Mac and bass player Jay Dead boasts a stage presence that Gene Simmons would kill for

But is it all style over substance? Not at all. New single Wisdom Of The Slave – Mac’s DIY merch providing the perfect advert for the July 13 release – made a lasting impression on the Trillians masses and just might make this month’s Radio Two playlist. Maybe.

Headliners The Soap Girls fell victim to the temporary closure of the Tyne Bridge and missed the start of their headline slot by some margin. But the French duo’s latest stop on the Sniff My Strap tour was better late than never.

Sisters Millie and Mie mix outlandish fashion sense with genre-defying sounds that sit somewhere between L7, Blondie and The Runaways. Imagine First Aid Kit doing Motörhead or Heart covering Nirvana. It’s almost like that.

Fearless, reckless and topless, The Soap Girls cleaned up at Camden Rocks earlier this summer and their brief trip to the Toon will live long in the memory. Introducing Society’s Rejects by snarling ‘fuck society and its divisions, fuck the government, fuck people who judge you’, there was no danger of misinterpreting the song’s underlying message that it’s ‘better to be a misfit in a world of conformist bullshit’.

More than a pair of pretty faces? Just a bit.