at O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., September 26, 2012

Talk about a quandary.  Two of the hottest new bands over from The States, playing the same venue on the same night BUT in different halls.  There was only one thing for it.  Go to both!!

Having recently backed Judas Priest and Black Stone Cherry in Newcastle, Rival Sons returned to headline their own show in the smaller Academy 2.  With a new album, Head Down nestling just outside of the Top 30 success looks imminent.

Rival Sons

Mining a rich vein of influences from Led Zeppelin, Free and The Doors with a powerful modern twist and a driving groove that sets them apart from their peers they are destined for big things.  Head Down sees the band spreading their wings musically with the cocksure swagger of “Keep on Swinging” rubbing shoulders with the psychedelic tinged “Wild Animal”.  Their confidence and self-belief is almost tangible as singer Jay Buchanan struts and preens across the stage yet has the imposing voice needed to carry it off while guitarist Scott Holiday complete with the rakish facial fuzz, is the perfect foil.  Often underappreciated in many bands, bassist Rob Everhart and drummer Mike Miley lock into a tight groove that drives the band forward through the likes of “Burn Down Los Angeles”  making them a vital component to the Rival Sons sound.  One thing’s for sure, they won’t be playing halls of this size for much longer.

Rival Sons

It’s only a couple of months ago that Halestorm stood on the stage of the larger Academy 1 opening for Shinedown.  Now they return to the very same venue, not as a support act but as the stars of the show.  Lzzy Hale is a formidable front woman.  In an industry obsessed with Mariah Carey/Beyonce autotune clones it is so refreshing to see and hear someone totally different.  Blessed with a voice melodic yet so powerful it could halt a rhino from 100 paces, Lzzy cuts an imposing yet highly photogenic presence on stage.


Their latest album, The Strange Case Of cracked the US Top 20 and with a heavy rotation on MTV, Halestorm appear to have risen rapidly from nowhere yet that would be doing a disservice to Lzzy and her Tasmanian Devil-esq brother, drummer Arjey who have been in bands together for years.  This is success won the hard way, constant touring, great songs and a lot of hard work.

“Love Bites” roars with attitude while “Rock Show’s” shimmering melody cries out for radio play and “Here’s To Us” shows her more gentle side. Lzzy can certainly mix it with the big boys and this is none more evident than the ferocious cover of Judas Priests classic “Dissident Aggressor” where she hits every last one of Rob Halford’s stratospheric screams.  Absolutely incredible.


Debbie Harry, Joan Jett and Janis Joplin have all made their names in a male dominated business and only a fool would bet against Lzzy joining them.  A true star in the making.

There’s nothing like a good compromise to sort out any problem and with only a few flights of stairs to contend with, two great bands in one night on different floors became a reality and both were well worth  that extra effort.


  • 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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