At The O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., February 23, 2019

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT (Live at The O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., February 23, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Hot on the heels of their celebratory 45th anniversary tour in 2017, the Godzilla’s of Rock, Blue Öyster Cult returned to strike while the iron was hot and on the warmest day of the year so far Newcastle was certainly up for it with the Academy packed both downstairs and up.

With a setlist changing from night to night you never quite know what to expect from a BOC show and Tattoo Vampire from their Platinum selling Agents of Fortune album was a welcome surprise to open the show as Before The Kiss, A Redcap and the song that inspired JK Rowling, Career Of Evil followed in quick succession.

The sprightly Pop of Burnin’ For You came early in the set and demonstrated the perfect versatility of BOC. Their ability to craft such melodic gems alongside the darker, heavier, more sinister Harvester Of Eyes sets them apart from their peers and much of that is down to the contrasting approaches of the smoother, melodic vocals of Buck Dharma and the harder, more edgy voice of Eric Bloom.

In Dharma, they have one of the finest guitarists around. His sense of melody and technical dexterity creates a sound that works completely for the song. There’s no needless overplaying and every note counts with The Vigil and Harvest Moon being two perfect examples. It is arguably Then Came The Last Days Of May where Dharma really shines in the tale of a drugs deal that went wrong which was told so vividly and his interplay with fellow guitarist Richie Castellano so compelling.

While Dharma and Bloom may take centre stage, they have surrounded themselves with truly gifted musicians including charismatic bassist Danny Miranda, drummer Jules Radino, who put in a sterling performance throughout and Castellano who proved to be the bands utility player adding guitars, keyboards and vocals to the potent mix.

When a band can pull out a stone-cold classic like (Don’t Fear) The Reaper with its beautiful, shimmering harmonies and haunting storyline you know that you are in the presence of something special and when Dharma’s solo exploded in the mid-section, it just took everything to the next level.

With a three-song encore including the upbeat The Red and The Black, a welcome return for Hot Rails To Hell featuring Castellano’s imposing voice and a seriously riff heavy Cities On Flame shaking the Academy’s foundations, BOC proved yet again why they remain one of the America’s great Rock bands and with a new album in the works there’s plenty still to look forward to.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • 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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  1. Spot on with this review… I hadn’t seen the guys for years but I wasn’t let down.. The night was a huge success in Newcastle… And the thought of a new CD… Well, bring it on

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