Baby Rattlesnakes @Gateshead Downcast Studios, August 12 2023

Are Baby Rattlesnakes all grown up? Maybe.

But ‘mature’ might be stretching the point.

Sure, the slick quartet play with all the confidence and prowess of a band that’s been doing this for decades.

(The 20th anniversary billing gave the game away.)

And yet the raw energy underpinning those wildly entertaining early years remains.

There’s still a boyish charm behind a slew of bona fide earworms.

That trademark glint in the eye of big kid Barnesy (vocals).

And a sense of mischief bubbling beneath the surface as band mates Saunders (lead guitar), Kalli (drums) and Chris (bass) go about their (monkey) business.

Anyone who witnessed the anything goes, set-closing jam (featuring Dirty Rock N Roll bass guru Lee Armstrong et al) would agree fun still comes first where this party-starting four-piece is concerned.

But two decades down the line and Baby Rattlesnakes could be deadly serious about doing it all again — only this time better.

Back in the day, their pop punk sensibility mixed with hard rock riffs and soaring solos made for a heady live concoction.

And the decision to bring back founding member Saunders on lead guitar already looks like a masterstroke.

The Fu Fighters’ six stringer admitted to some rare pre-gig nerves.

But some scorching fretwork took crowd favourites Let Your Hair Down, Mary Jane and Beautiful To Me to the next level. 

Nothing’s off limits where Baby Rattlesnakes are concerned. It never was.

One minute Barnes and co. sound like the bastard sons of Green Day and Terrorvision and the next they’re mimicking the Manics and Skynyrd (the Southern rock-fuelled outro to Mary Jane was simply magnificent).

Previously recorded — but never played live — the brilliant Believe In Me was less a plea and more of an order. Believe in Barnesy and his Baby Rattlesnakes?

We all do. More than ever.

Main support Katie Grace & Band could have stepped straight off the set of Daisy Jones & The Six and their early evening mix of folk, indie and Americana went down a treat.

The quartet’s last gig for while was a bittersweet affair — Katie heads down to London next month while bass player Tom’s upping sticks to Prague.

But if this was the final ‘full band’ show then what a way to bow out.

Latest single Tangled Up — featuring the sublime Izaac Wilson on lead guitar— sounded every bit as good as the acoustic version debuted on BBC Introducing earlier in the week.

And the sumptuous Sam Fender-approved Alexandria sparkled in the late afternoon sun.

But what about that fabulous Fleetwood Mac cover? 

Katie and drummer Martha delivered note perfect vocal harmonies as the band debuted their delightful version of Little Lies.

More of the same please. Whenever that is.

Openers Late Fix were the early entertainment and the fast-paced trio ripped through a riotous set without pausing for breath.

Kallie warmed up for his Baby Rattlesnakes turn with a typically tenacious display behind the kit.

And even a few technical gremlins couldn’t derail the local favourites determined to deliver on their Downcast debut.

Stellar new tune So I Said spoke volumes. Late Fix might just be your new indie rock remedy.