Ugly Kid Joe & Massive Wagons @Newcastle Riverside, November 9 2022

Still searching for that perfect shot of post-pandemic euphoria?

Devour this co-headline rock and roll cocktail while you still can.

Whoever paired Ugly Kid Joe with Massive Wagons deserves a medal.

Brothers from another angsty mother, the two bands were born to be wild together.

And on an unusually mild November night in Newcastle this dynamic duo turned up the heat.

First up were the Wagons.

Parked bumper to bumper between Arctic Monkeys and Tom Odell on the UK Top 40 Albums Chart, Lancaster’s rock machine is on a roll.

Sitting pretty with number six record Triggered!, the fearsome fivesome are mixing it with the big boys.

And one of the slickest live acts on the planet continues to set the pace.

Jack-in-the-box frontman Barry Mills has always been an eye-catching performer.

High kicks and even higher notes punctuate his thrill-a-minute sets.

Mills is a boon to lovers of balls-to-the-wall live music.

And Wagons’ intoxicating blend of old school moves and innovative grooves owes much to the band’s explosive pocket rocket.

But where Mills leads his band mates follow.

During the last decade, six-stringer Adam Thistlethwaite’s remarkable evolution has been something to behold.

Once content to retreat into the shadows and rein in his emotion, the supremely talented axeman is a musician transformed.

A master of his craft who’s always ready to crash the party, Thistlethwaite has proved himself a true NWOCR thoroughbred — with much more to come.

Of course, Stevie Holl never lacked confidence.

And Thistlethwaite’s wide-eyed wing man brings the child-like cheek to a band of cynical vets.

Holl for one and one for Holl? The ‘new boy’ has become almost irreplaceable as a vital cog in the Wagons’ wheel.

New tunes came thick and fast with Please Stay Calm, A.S.S.H.O.L.E. and Fuck The Haters reinforcing the view that Mills and co. have penned their best album to date.

Triggered! is bursting with festival-ready anthems fit for radio and this joyous set celebrated the fact.

No Ordinary Joe

Ugly Kid Joe had some act to follow.

But Whitfield Crane and his cronies love a challenge.

And by the time Wayne’s World-approved monster hit Everything About You wrapped up a 15-song set it was honours even for the fiercely competitive co-headliners.

Like Wagons, UKJ boast a shiny new record in the shape of Rad Wings Of Destiny.

But unlike their tour buddies, the US alt rockers didn’t dig too deep into last month’s under-the-radar album drop.

Failure and That Ain’t Livin’ reminded the massed that Crane can still pen a canny tune.

But it was Rad Wings’ token cover, a version of The Kinks’ classic Lola, that had the Riverside faithful rocking.

Take Everything About You out of the equation and it’s another choice cover that evokes treasured memories of UKJ at their contrary peak.

Cat’s In The Cradle, by Harry Chapin, should never have suited California’s antidote to Pretty Boy Floyd.

But it did. To a tee.

And almost 30 years after it hit the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic, Cat’s… still allows Crane to revel in his softer, sublime and more subtle side.

There was nothing subtle about his drummer’s comical blast of AC/DC.

Back In Black sounded more Jack Black…but the brief turn got the laughs it deserved.

UKJ paid homage to Sydney’s finest again after inviting Mills on stage to duet on Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.

Imagine two of the naughtiest kids in school letting rip and ripping it up at the end-of-term talent contest.

Crane and Mills appeared to love every minute during a true show of strength from two rabid road dogs.

And the sheer energy underpinning ‘encore’ Everything About You summed up everything that’s so refreshing about this much-needed shot of double trouble.