Northern Darkness II: Brominion Edition – Seven Sisters, Riot City and High Spirits @The Little Buildings, Newcastle upon Tyne, May 4, 2023

Four weeks ago, this gig wasn’t even on the calendar.

But with the cancellation of Durham’s Dominion Festival – set to take place from May 5 to 7 – and a subsequent salvage effort from Byker Grave Bookings, Seven Sisters, Riot City and High Spirits found themselves part of Northern Darkness II: Brominion Edition.

And the Newcastle metal mini-fest got off to one hell of a start, with this sold-out show…

Seven Sisters go interstellar on Star Wars day

Seven Sisters are no strangers to Newcastle. They graced the city’s Brofest shindig pre-Covid and have hit Tyneside twice since the pandemic.

So unsurprisingly, the London quartet were greeted as heroes as they blazed through a set of Sisters classics, including the gloriously ambitious 15-minute odyssey, The Cauldron and The Cross Parts 1 and 2.

And on the eve of the coronation, the band reaffirmed their status as NWOTHM royalty with a joyous take on Once and Future King.

Hell, there were even touches of Queen in Graeme Farmer’s sparkling lead work, while Freddie Mercury’s influence loomed large on Shadow Of A Fallen Star.

Riotous behaviour

Starting your set with the Terminator soundtrack? You’re going to need to follow that up with some serious firepower.

Luckily, Calgary’s Riot City have plenty of Priest-powered nukes in their arsenal, and as soon as Jordan Jacobs (pictured) screamed his intro to The Hunter, Newcastle knew it was killing time.

The last time this quintet graced the North East, they annihilated Brofest with fellow countrymen Traveler, just as the world was hearing about a thing called ‘Covid-19’.

But the ensuing pandemic did nothing to blunt their Canadian steel.

With new album Electric Elite to draw on, Riot City seared The Little Buildings: Ghost Of Reality and Beyond The Stars shone bright… and Tyrant, a masterclass in heavy metal songcraft, sounded imperious.

There was still time for them to unleash earlier cuts such as Burn The Night though… and this set bodes well for their European jaunt with Seven Sisters.

Getting into the spirit

High Sprits love Newcastle.

So much so, that the Chicago crew made a t-shirt to commemorate their three-date Tyneside mini-tour.

And the city loves them back.

Drinks were spilling by the time Chris Black and co. declared their love for the North East with a performance packed with anthems. Flying High and Another Night In The City are arena-level songs, and they sound immense in a crowded nano-venue like The Little Buildings.

With the energy of a young punk band and the sonic suss of hardened metal veterans, High Sprits do what they say on the tin.

They turn every show into a party.

And on Thursday night, they were just getting started…