Massive @Newcastle Trillians, August 4 2022

We could have cancelled. We chose to rock.

Brad Marr’s defiant battle cry rang around Trillians with trademark zeal.

Massive had fought long and hard to set foot on North East soil again.

A global pandemic, European war, cost-of-living crisis and more stood between the Aussie crew and their British fans.

And that was all before Marr’s trusty wingman was denied a visa.

Axe hero Ben Laguda was just eight days away from flying out of Australia to join his German-based buddy.

But red tape meant Massive’s go-to guitarist was grounded.

So Massive could have cancelled their UK tour for the third (or possibly fourth) time.

Marr could have stayed home, licked his wounds and written another cookbook.

He could have hidden behind Brexit, Covid, Vladimir Putin or Monkey Pox.

And nobody would have blamed one of the busiest men in rock.

But this is Brad ‘Fucking’ Marr.

A legitimate legend in his own lifetime.

A wrecking ball of Aussie energy who lives for the road.

A straight-talking, no-nonsense singer, songwriter, manager, promoter and more.

One of the best blokes you could ever hope to meet.

And not the kind of guy who’d let Laguda’s paperwork torpedo his long-held plans.

Massive could have cancelled.

But they didn’t.

Marius and them

The answer to Laguda’s absence?

Bring German riffmeister Marius Lallensack along for the ride.

Typically Teutonic in his painstaking attention to detail, the bearded guitarist looked right at home.

Efficiently working his way through an unfamiliar setlist, Lallensack did his new band proud.

Sure, there’s no one quite like Laguda when it comes to delivering Oscar winning performances as Marr’s grinning stooge.

It requires a truly special individual to play that unforgiving role.

And for his comedic value alone, Massive’s co-founder was missed.

Swapping a proven ballsack (only joking, Ben) for untried Lallensack was a huge gamble.

But the guy can play.

And that’s all Marr needed to make this long-awaited trek happen.

Fist-pumpers new and old rang around the band’s favourite basement venue as Newcastle made the most of this raucous reunion.

Reset and Rise screamed reinvention and defiance.

Blood Money Blues sounded red hot.

And Marr’s meandering acoustic turn teased an audience baying for more.

The singer’s hilarious take on Bohemian Rhapsody brought the house down.

But the juxtaposition with fellow countryman John Farnham’s anthemic You’re The Voice was a masterstroke.

And while Marr took centre stage his band mates hit the floor to raise money for a little girl from Norwich fighting for her life.

Massive have made it their mission to raise vital funds for Kayla as she battles cancer.

And the Trillians faithful dug deep as Marr bust his lungs doing a fantastic impression of pub rock hero Farnham.

Ghost story still the best

Set closers Ghost and One By One demonstrated why Massive have been missed.

Two incendiary live classics never fail to disappoint.

And Marr never sounded better as he set the seal on a heartfelt comeback show with two bona fide bangers.

Earlier, Bastette got the ball rolling with an eye-catching, quasi-theatrical turn.

Frontwoman Caroline Kenyon caught Rushonrock’s eye at Call Of The Wild earlier this summer.

And one of the most captivating performers on the NWOCR scene continues to evolve.

New tune Good Time Girl grabbed a fast-filling venue by the scruff of its neck as Kenyon lapped up the attention.

And sign-off Rollercoaster served as a timely reminder that Bastette’s back catalogue has only been enhanced by the canny addition of Laurie Buchanan.

Super-talented local heroes Thieves Of Liberty should have stolen the show.

But this was far from the fast-rising Sunderland quartet’s most convincing performance.

And the spark was missing for long periods of a bizarrely disjoined set.

Even the hook-laden Ain’t Going Home was lacking its usual stadium-sized punch.

But every band’s allowed at last one off day. 

So back to the ebullient headliners.

Lesser bands would have walked away.

Many more would have called it a day.

Massive could have cancelled.

But they chose to rock. Thank fuck they did.

Images courtesy of Adam Kennedy