ANDY TURNER (PHOTO CREDITS: TURNER PHOTOGRAPHY)
Bonfire night in Newcastle is a cold affair and there were plenty of fireworks lighting up the night sky, but the only fireworks that mattered to this reviewer tonight were the ones taking place at Riverside.
Opening the show tonight were Gothenburg Hardcore Punk / Hard Rock outfit The Last Band. This Swedish 5-piece made their intentions clear from the outset, delivering a high energy, high octane show right from the start. New single ‘So What’ entertained with its strong, chugging rhythm guitars, rock solid beat and a chorus of “So what, I don’t give a fuck!” as did their incredible cover of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Bulls On Parade’. The Riverside, as a venue, is quite small and intimate and to begin with the crowd was sparse. That didn’t deter these “skinny bitches” from putting on a fantastic, sweaty performance full of aggression. Mid way through their set, the crowd begins to grow and The Last Band receives a great response as the audience claps along to the final song. With plenty of denim and leather on display, the mood and the tone of the evening has been well and truly set.
Madame Mayhem is a Manhattan-born singer-songwriter with an eclectic style in every aspect of life. Her ‘in your face’ attitude certainly lends weight to her name, Mayhem. Tonight Madame Mayhem treated the Newcastle faithful to her brand of Alternative, Hard Rock. The fast tempo songs were short and sweet and got the crowd moving, whilst the slower ones brought the drums to the fore, lending to them a more Goth Rock feel at times. Mayhem was a ball of energy on the stage, hardly keeping two feet on the floor, with her outstanding power pipes and stage persona gaining her an immediate connection with the audience.
By this point of the night, the venue was packed. There were lots of Hardcore Superstar fans in attendance and as the lights came down, Riverside filled with chants of “Hardcore, Hardcore” as the band came onto the stage to the backing track ‘This Worm’s For Ennio’, before bursting out of the gates into ‘Beg For It’. The crowd were ravenous as the Swedish 4-piece whipped them up into a frenzy. Vocalist Jocke Berg was in superb form tonight, working the crowd and getting everyone to raise their hands in the air before they immediately dove into ‘Touch The Sky’, which also had everyone singing along. The venue was now bouncing as they played new single ‘Have Mercy On Me’ which has been out a few weeks now, and in my opinion has a quite poppy/mainstream sound. Closing out their set with “We Don’t Celebrate Sundays” which featured a lyric from 90s club anthem ‘No Limit’ by 2 Unlimited, the track featured an absolute beast of a drum solo from Adde Andreasson. What a monster player he is! The entire band was inspired tonight, but I wanted to give a special shout out to guitarist Vic Zino who I personally thought was incredible. His solos were effortless and tasteful, his riffs were immense and he just helped keep the energy alive throughout. Lots of fan interaction and love for the band and Hardcore Superstar showed their appreciation in abundance.
The anticipation for the night’s co-headliners Fozzy is building as the crowd chanting reaches fever pitch. Frank Fontsere takes his place behind his drum kit, followed by guitarists Rich Ward and Billy Grey, and bass player Paul Di Leo. All getting a huge pop, but the largest reaction is saved for the ‘Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla’ himself, Chris Jericho. Chris is a big, intimidating performer as he stands there in his spangled top, which has been fitted with lights, biceps bulging, oozing a lot of class, plenty of arrogance and just the right amount of camp. Latest single ‘Judas’ had everyone joining in, as did a lot of the songs this evening in fact, and there was a lot of interplay between the band members, who all seemed to be enjoying their time on stage together. It felt, in some ways, like a theatre performance, especially given the nature of the small, intimate venue setting.
Riverside is buzzing and Jericho is all smiles and manic grins throughout, clearly loving his job of performing to a crowd. Di Leo’s bombastic bass, alongside his partner in rhythm, Frank Fontsere on the drums shook the foundations with their fat grooves, and heavy beats. Years of experience from entertaining crowds at wrestling shows the world over has given Y2J a brilliant knack of crowd engagement, as they hang on his every move. He whips out the patented pyro gun and the crowd erupts into frenzy. They break out a brilliant cover of Abbas ‘SOS’ which goes down a storm. The set was exciting and the stage show provided those in attendance with pure, unadulterated entertainment. Final track ‘Sandpaper’ had a big, teasing build up from Chris before they brought it home, giving the crowd one final memory from a thrilling night of Grade-A music.
Overall, this was an incredible evening of adrenaline pumping Hard Rock music. The energy and passion delivered by The Last Band will see them gain a bigger fan base quickly based on the evidence of this performance. Madame Mayhem is one bad ass rock chick and her ability to engage with the crowd certainly did her no harm at all. Hardcore Superstar were f***ing superb! That is all that needs to be said, and whilst it would be easy to think the crowd would disperse once Fozzy came on stage, as there were a lot of HCSS fans in attendance, they didn’t! They were just as feverish and rabid for Chris and co as they were for everyone else. All in all this was an absolute belter of a gig and I would recommend everyone go check out each of these bands if they come to a town or city near you.
Check out the bands at:
The Last Band .
**PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA**