At The Cluny, Newcastle, U.K., April 20, 2016

THE BELLRAYS (Live at The Cluny, Newcastle, U.K., April 20, 2016)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Those who bemoan the death of live music really need to get down to a place like The Cluny. For the price of a small round of drinks on any given night there are artists of all conceivable genres with enough variety to satisfy even the most eclectic tastes.

Tonight it was The Bellrays from California making their first visit to these shores in over half a decade since their last appearance opening for the Rock ‘n’ Roll firestorm, The Jim Jones Revue. Fronted by their not so secret weapon, the imposing and commanding, Lisa Kekaula alongside guitarist husband, Bob Vennum, The Bellrays batter down all musical conventions and limitations with their intoxicating blend of Punk, Soul, Blues, Pop and whatever other label you can think of. Imagine Aretha Franklin fronting Detroit’s MC5 and that gives you some idea of where they are coming from.

Packing a set crammed full of great songs from across their 25 year career with their most recent album Black Lightning providing a fair chunk of the setlist, The Bellrays were on fire. From the frantic Living A Life to the upbeat Pinball City and the anthemic pulse of Everybody Get Up this was 100% pure, raw energy. Anymore, on the other hand showed their more laidback, reflective side.

With a covers EP fresh off the press especially for the tour giving them the opportunity to pay homage to their heroes added to the variety of the night with a wonderful, smouldering, groove heavy take on Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love and a sprightly romp through Cheap Trick’s Dream Police.

While many may have greeted the news of Axl Rose stepping into Brian Johnson’s shoes for reputedly AC/DC’s final shows with disbelief, Kekaula staked her claim with an absolute barnstormer of a take on Highway To Hell. What a way to end the show.

Quite how The Bellrays aren’t a household name is a mystery but for those in the know, The Cluny was the place to be on a Wednesday night in Newcastle. With a new album due for release at the end of the year and the promise of a quick return, only a fool would miss them next time.


  • 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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