Seven Sisters/Eliminator/Toledo Steel @Trillians, Newcastle, October 28, 2021

A flashback to February 29, 2021.

Rushonrock was there to witness Seven Sisters’ triumphant performance at Tyneside trad metal shindig Brofest.

The band were concluding an extensive European tour with Californian NWOTHM heroes Haunt.

It was a major step forward for the London outfit.

A jaunt with US trio Night Demon was lined up.

It felt like Seven Sisters were on a roll.

We all know what happened a few weeks later…

Yet despite the pandemic’s impact, the quartet created a career best album in Shadow Of A Fallen Star Part 1, which was unleashed earlier this month.

So this tour was especially poignant.

And Seven Sisters were determined to pick up where they left off last February…

The Newcastle date was also an important one for Southampton’s Toledo Steel, back in action after a similar enforced hiatus.

The South Coast swashbucklers also had a new record to show off, the incendiary Heading For The Fire.

And show it off they did, as the Dianno-era, street-level Maiden of On The Loose burst from the stage, and the quickfire No Time To Lose upped the ante.

Singer Rich Rutter is simply born to be a metal frontman, lighting up songs like Smoke and Mirrors with a performance straight from the legendary Soundhouse.

But it was six stringer Tom Potter who really stole the show: all rapier riffery and piercing solos, the guy has real class. He gives Toledo Steel their edge.

Lancashire’s Eliminator have a similar appreciation for Harris, Dickinson, Smith et al.

The twin guitars of Jack McMichael and Matthew Thomas bite hard on record and on stage, and the pairs’ dual axework blazed through new songs such as Ancient Light – the title track of their forthcoming second album.

2018’s Last Horizon was a strong debut which put Eliminator on the NWOTHM map. But on tonight’s evidence, it could be eclipsed by its successor…

Eliminator by Stefan Rosic, Conundrum Images.

Seven Sisters live: laying down a marker

Toledo Steel and Eliminator certainly made their presence felt at Trillians.

But Seven Sisters headlined this NWOTHM extravaganza for a reason.

Since their self-titled debut dropped in 2016, they’ve been heading for the stratosphere.

The magical songcraft of 2018’s The Cauldron And The Cross was championed by Haunt’s Trevor William Church – and brought a growing legion of retro-metalheads to their Bandcamp page.

The stage was set for Shadow Of A Fallen Star Part 1.

And it didn’t disappoint.

On record, it’s a feast for the senses.

Played live – in this case in its entirety – and you’ll realise why Seven Sisters could soon be headlining festivals.

The Artifice illuminated Trillians with its interstellar glory, Horizon’s Eye was sung back to the band with real vigour, and ballad Wounds Of Design showed just how far founder Kyle McNeill has come as a singer and songwriter since the band’s inception. It’s arena-level.

The frontman was clearly ready to play the show of his life on the return to Newcastle, a gig where young Brofest devotees mixed with veterans of the North East’s NWOBHM heyday.

He seemed genuinely touched to be back on Tyneside, sparring with fellow guitarist Graeme Farmer and enjoying the abundant energy of bassist Gaz Martin.

So touched, in fact, that Seven Sisters made room for a 16-minute encore in the shape of The Cauldron And The Cross Parts 1 and 2. It’s a fan favourite which typifies the band’s musical ambition.

The following day, the news broke that the remaining tour dates had been cancelled, due to Covid-19 in the camp. It was an ugly reminder that the pandemic is still hammering our scene.

But for one glorious night, Seven Sisters helped us to forget the despair of the last 20 months.

And they did it in some style.

All live images by Stefan Rosic, Conundrum Images. Check out his work on Facebook and Instagram.

Seven Sisters by Stefan Rosic, Conundrum Images.