Riot City @The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 7, 2024

“We love Newcastle!”

Yeah, ok, we’ve heard that one before. But you get the feeling that Riot City really, really mean it… and maybe they don’t just say that to all the girls.

The Canadians have certainly forged a deep connection with Tyneside: Brofest 2020, a two-day classic metal fiesta at Newcastle University, played host to their debut UK show; their first live album – Live At The Little Buildings – was recorded in Newcastle; and last year, the quintet tore their way through Brominion festival twice. The guys were wide-eyed as NWOBHM heroes Satan reigned over The Cluny on that fest’s final day, and singer Jordan Jacobs even gifted us a rendition of Queen Of The Reich at the after-party.

No surprise, then, that Riot City were greeted with open arms on their return. Their Newcastle-themed shirts, made especially for tonight, were eagerly snapped up by City Swifties. The merch stand was doing good business minutes after the doors opened.   

They didn’t have to work hard to win over The Lubber Fiend, and Friday’s throng were already hyped up before The Hunter seared through them.  

But work hard they did.

Just a few songs in, the sweat was pouring off a grinning, shirtless Jacobs. Drummer Jake Gracie was relentless. And they set their stall out early with a hyperspeed take on Steel Rider.

Reignited UK thrashers Toranaga had already laid down a gauntlet with a stomping opening set, but Riot City, honed from a lengthy European jaunt and looking ever more confident, surged with power. This was street level music with a dazzling sheen, the natural successor to Maiden’s Soundhouse era, the leaner, meaner offspring of Painkiller’s chrome-plated biker.

High octane ragers like Eye Of The Jaguar and Burn The Night turned up the heat. By the time 329 hit, feet were in the air and the stage turned into a launchpad.

An encore of Grim Reaper’s See You In Hell got the full, singalong treatment and a raw, petrol drenched Livin’ Fast – from their 2014 debut demo – was unearthed and unleashed.

But for all Riot City’s speed metal thunder, the band have their subtle side. Jacobs’ vocal prowess, and Cale Savy and Roldan Reimer’s melodic architecture, loomed large over Ghost of Reality and the near ten minute epic of Severed Ties – both standouts from 2022’s Electric Elite.

Running riot

Riot City are a metal machine, with no intention of going anything less than full throttle.

They were built for nights like this.

And they loved every second of it.

Quiet riot? It was never going to happen.  

Photos used courtesy of Stefan Rosic, Conundrum Images.