Tailgunner @Newcastle Trillians 17.10.23

According to frontman Craig Cairns, Tailgunner are on a mission ‘to put British heavy metal back on the map’.

Perhaps he hasn’t noticed Iron Maiden have just announced dates for The Future Past tour in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

And maybe he missed the fact that Judas Priest’s Metal Masters 2024 tour takes in Germany, France, Italy and more.

Saxon are playing across South America next month and Newcastle’s very own Raven hit the road with Girlschool across the UK next February.

In fact, the global heavy metal map continues to be dominated by British bands rooted in the genre’s late 70s explosion.

But if Cairns is talking about the new breed of homegrown heroes planting their flag then he has a fair point.

With a combined age knocking on four figures, the legends listed above can’t keep trad metal alive forever. 

And the genre desperately requires fresh blood with the power, passion and hook-laden potential to pack out arenas for the next 50 years.

The new wave of British trad metal boasts a slew of axe-wielding noiseniks in the shape of Eliminator, Toledo Steel and Seven Sisters

But on this evidence the razor-sharp, rising stars of Tailgunner could take things to the next level.

Tailgunner On Target With New Recruit

Rushonrock’s interest was initially piqued in the summer when the band stole the show at Call Of The Wild Festival.

Six-stringer Rhea Thompson was parachuted into the line-up at a few days’ notice and casually shredded her way into the hearts and minds of the Lincolnshire masses with a flawless display of firebrand riffing.

Her full-time appointment was quickly ratified and an explosive Newcastle debut confirmed why Cairns and co. didn’t hang about.

Thompson has added a bulletproof steel to Tailgunner’s trademark sound and is proving to be the perfect foil for flamboyant band mate Zach Salvini.

Founder Thomas Hewson and drummer Sammy Starwood pack a rhythmic punch rooted in pre-Bruce Maiden — the latter’s frenzied approach to the epic Rebirth a standout moment within a supercharged set.

If the clichéd uniforms (white basketball boots, white sports socks and tight leather-look pants), hackneyed stage moves and Halford-styled shrieks might be too cheesy for some then there’s no doubting Tailgunner’s undying commitment to the trad metal cause.

Students of the old school, and nuanced enough to fete a new fan base, the quintet’s fist-pumping anthems Guns For Hire and Warhead bulldozed a bristling Trillians crowd.

And faithful renditions of Priest’s Painkiller and Dio’s Don’t Talk To Strangers reinforced the band’s reputation as bona fide followers of the denim and leather-clad faith.

British heavy metal’s never been off the map for the best part of half a century. 

But if Tailgunner are on a mission to keep it there then Cairns and co. are more than ready to give it their best shot.