At The Carling Academy, Newcastle, U.K., June 13, 2008

Blue Öyster Cult (BOC) are a band that consistently comes up with the goods on stage and are always worth coming to see every time they hit the road. Not only do the sets change from tour to tour, but also from night to night, so those attending multiple shows are treated to a wide range of gems from their illustrious back catalog.

boc Hitting the stage to the up-tempo riffing of “The Red And The Black,” their ode to Canadian Mounties, BOC dug right back to their Tyranny And Mutation album before delving even further back with “Before The Kiss A Redcap” from their 1972 debut.

As the show took place on a Friday night, there was a tight curfew in place, as a disco was booked up for later in the evening so guitarist/singer Eric Bloom led the band into a lighthearted disco funk out before heading into “Burnin’ For You.”

Last time BOC played Newcastle, original rhythm guitarist/keyboard player Allen Lanier had taken ill and the band stepped up a gear and performed a hard-edged set as a four piece. Lanier has since retired from touring and bass man Richie Castellano has switched to Lanier’s rhythm guitar/keyboards role, and Danny Miranda has returned from his duties with Queen to supply the big, bad bass.

boc The previous night’s show in Holmfirth was heralded as one of their very best by both band and fans alike, and the band seemed to tap into a deep, rich vein of form all at the same time. That quality was clearly carried through to their show in Newcastle. “Burnin’ For You” had that perfect, clear melodic Pop sensibility that lead guitarist Buck Dharma performed so well, and the same can be said about the superb “Harvest Moon,” which featured a blinding lead break from Dharma. “Harvester Of Eyes,” on the other hand, provided the counter balance with Bloom’s savage riff and sinister vocals, giving an altogether harder, darker edge to the band. It is these contrasting elements that make BOC such a unique outfit.

There was a period in the middle of the show where it was hard to imagine how things could actually get better. How does “The Vigil,” “Flaming Telepaths,” “Cities On Flame” and, introduced by Bloom as one of his favorite Buck tunes, “Perfect Water” grab you?

boc “The Vigil” has the perfect blend of power and melody with almost Psychedelic/Gothic harmonies overlying a rock hard riff and a delicious Dharma guitar refrain. This is BOC at their epic best. With “Flaming Telepaths” following hot on its heels, it was almost too much to take.

Jules Radino and Richie Castellano were thrown somewhat into the deep end when they first joined BOC a couple of years back, but now both have blossomed into seasoned BOC veterans. Radino’s energetic performance took the best features from his predecessors with the finesse of Albert Bouchard and with the sheer power of Bobby Rondinelli — his performance on the thunderous “Cities On Flame” was top notch. Castellano has developed into an all-round BOC performer with a showing of versatility that befits such a band, as he effortlessly switched from rhythm guitar to keyboards. During “Then Came The Last Days Of May,” one of Buck Dharma’s finest moments, Dharma stepped back allowing Castellano the chance to shine with a solo of sublime skill, which says as much about Castellano’s ability as a guitarist as Dharma’s confidence in his own ability, as he let his bandmate take the spotlight. Bloom and Dharma have certainly made an excellent choice in these two.

boc With Bloom’s wonderfully dry sense of humor in full flow, it was time for the monstrous riff of “Godzilla” to kick in and shake the venue to its very foundations, and during the midsection, Bloom introduced Danny Miranda and announced a BOC tribute to Queen as they launched in a medley of “Another One Bites The Dust,” ”We Will Rock You,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” before heading off into a brief bass and drum solo.

Rock evergreen “Don’t Fear The Reaper” closed the set with probably the best live rendition heard over the years, and the explosive mid-section where Dharma’s solo soars away was jaw-dropping. This really must rate as one of the finest lead breaks of all time.

boc With the 10:00pm curfew fast approaching, there was just time for a rampaging romp through “Hot Rails To Hell,” with Castellano on lead vocals bringing the night to a riotous end.

All who made the decision to plump for an evening with BOC rather than other concert alternative available on this evening proved absolutely the right one to make. The band performed with a renewed vigor, which, along with an inspired set-list, ensured that BOC’s reputation as a damn fine live band shows no sign of abating.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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