LIFE OF AGONY / AARON BUCHANAN & THE CULT CLASSICS / BLOOD RUNS DEEP - Northumbria University Student Union 19.09.17

Lauren Gosling (Photo Credits: Turner Photography (Andy Turner))


Arriving at the small student venue in the centre of the city, surprise crossed our minds at the intimate nature of the room. A quaint, dingy dark room, flanked with curtain and small bar- the perfect style venue you may think for a heavy rock gig but all the while possibly one of the most intimate for a band of this statue.


Life of Agony are certainly no new kids on the block. Having disbanded twice and reformed   both times under the original lie up, Mina, Alan, Joey and Sal have five studio albums behind their belt as well as two compilation albums and three live recorded albums over the course of their 28 year career.


The American four piece rock band made their triumphant return to Newcastle on Tuesday night to brace their Geordie fans presence in celebration of the release of A Place Where There’s No More Pain, their first album in 12 years.


But before they took to a decent sized stage equipped with full light and minimal production at the front of the room, It was the turn of Swiss doom metal band Blood Runs Deep to entertain the metal masses gathered at the Student Union.


 They took to the stage shortly before 8 and after a prolonged rock intro tinged with classic rock guitars launched into the first song of the night with a deep, dark raspy vocal style close to that of scream metal, setting a sombre, gloom-ridden mood throughout the room as their vibe seemed to captivate the small crowd that started to gather.

As they power through their set, the lighting changes throughout to blend with the dark undertones of their musical style which often consisted of repetitive, long, drawn out guitar and drum solos, strong power bass lines and a unique vocal tenacity that while  became overpowered at times filled the venue with full-filling tension creating an atmosphere like no other.


A swift genre change ensured soon after in the form of second support act Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics, with polished finesse, style and stacks of panache the three piece guitar band took to the stage with an unrepentant swagger. Powering through their set in perfect silhouette, the band focused on giving the crowd what they wanted in such a short space of time- a lot of decent music. 


Their opening number was packed a punch in every sense of the word from the powerful tempo and vocal arrangement to the sleek strong guitar solo making for a classic old rock Aerosmith style sound. The band had showmanship in droves in the form of the bands frontman who was every inch the rock star with the stage presence similar to that of Matt Bellamy from Muse. His charismatic vibe filled the venue with energy, often pausing throughout the set to banter with the small crowd that had now gathered by the stage.


As the band launched into their song Dancing With The Devil mid-way through their set the male- female harmonies with the lead guitarist blended smoothly with the bands epic rock guitar riffage. All in all the band managed to pull off a polished rock set which to some would be worthy of filling a small arena, but in this case while they may not have had an arena just a small student venue they succeeded in being classic rock stars and blowing the roof off the place, setting the tone for the rest of the evening and warming the crowd up perfectly for the headline act to follow.

After two fantastic support acts have warmed this crowd up and a short delay, it was finally time for the main act to brace the stage. The band braced the stage with a giant all seeing eye in the background and very minimalistic intimate lighting to launch straight into their long awaited set.


The New York rockers moved through their set flawlessly and effortlessly in silhouette with strong 90s esque rock n roll intros, edgy vocals and classic guitar solos dominating the first half of their set recreating the atmosphere of a well attended rock concert in a small venue with an intimate crowd, a task not often easy to full-fill but nonetheless not difficult for a band of this statue.


“This is one of the most intimate gigs we’ve played”, Mina says to the crowd as she pauses to talk to the student rock revellers half way through the first set, urging them to come forward closer to the stage. And indeed that maybe so, but however this did not stop them from raising the roof in all their blazing glory as they power straight into another number, met with rapturous applause from the gathered fans.


A swift change in vocal style midway through the set makes one number in particular seem almost Guns N Rose esque in style and finesse with slash style guitar riffs fused with an element of Rage against the machine style bass lines and prominent drum rhythm throughout. Mina almost presenting a showmanship akin to that of Axl Rose only in fine female form, with a stage presence tinged with sassy edge, flare and rock filled attitude throughout the evening.

Jumping into the crowd mid-way through the show to be mobbed ever so slightly at the front, she declares how great it is to be “one of the crowd” and after thanking the crowd for their support over the years, she appears to want to remain among the revellers for the latter part of the set making an almost arena worthy rock concert seem yet how somehow even more intimate and personal to those present in the room.


Launching into their track Edge Of The River the band take second half of the evening in a completely new direction in seamless motion cranking the mood from classic 90s rock to more modern heavier rock with elements of metal rock and screamo smattered throughout, much to the approval of the crowd who appear to revel in the change of pace in the latter parts of the evening.


And as the crowd depart the building with the satisfying ring of loud rock music in their ears it can be safely said the band are back on top form, having branched out to a new younger fan-base with a heavier modern sound they aced a performance worthy of filling an arena even if it was just an intimate student gig.




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