at Trillians, Newcastle, U.K., August 23, 2022

LILLIAN AXE (Live at Trillians, Newcastle, U.K., August 23, 2022)
Photo: Mick Burgess

There’s no doubting that the influence of US Rockers, Riot, spread far further than their record sales would suggest. Pre-dating the resurgent New Wave Of British Heavy Metal by a good couple of years, their supercharged metallic riffage was the bridge linking the classic heavy Rock of the ’70s and the more aggressive riff heavy Metal of the ’80s. Their albums Narita, Rock City and Fire Down Under set the standard for many to follow.

Riot Act features Rick Ventura, rhythm guitarist in Riot during their classic era and tonight was the first time he’d stepped on a Newcastle stage in over 40 years.

With a set built around those classic years with a couple of new songs dropped in to for good measure, Riot Act’s nine song set raced past at breakneck speed with “Rock City,” “Road Racin’” and a blistering “Swords and Tequila” sounding tight and punchy. Ventura laid down some tasty riffs as vocalist Don Chaffin lead the charge. Close your eyes and you’d swear it was original singer Guy Speranza.

New songs “Closer To The Flame” and “Wanted” have Riot DNA running right through them and show a bright future ahead but it was “Don’t Hold Back” and “Warrior” that sent the hardcore fans into delirium with one of the best special guest slots Trillians has seen in years.

It’s only been a mere 29 years since Melodic Hard Rockers Lillian Axe last toured the UK so relatively recently compared to Riot.

Not one for playing it safe Lillian Axe kicked off, not with one of their many classics but “I Am Beyond” from their just released album, From Womb To Tomb, and it was a real, dramatic epic to open show.

Of course, the classics came thick and fast with “Misery Loves Company” riffing hard while the towering chorus of “All’s Fair In Love and War” gave the crowd something to hold on to as did the pounding riff of “Body Double.”

A UK tour of seven shows in seven days is the ultimate Rock ‘n’ Roll smash ‘n’ grab and Lillian Axe wasted no time in giving the crowd what they came for. With original members, lead guitarist Steve Blaze and bassist Michael “Maxx” Darby they delivered the dream set. Vocalist Brent Graham was a revelation, powerful, melodic with an incredible range, just the voice to fit the songs.

In a parallel universe Lillian Axe would have sold out stadiums with their potent mix of Skid Row, Queensrÿche, Def Leppard and Saigon Kick and their own magic ingredient with bucket loads of melody and catchy hooks. Blaze was the ultimate Rockstar delivering the riffs and screaming solos and loving every minute of it.

Highlights came thick and fast but it was the likes of “Crucified” with its dirty, sleazy riff and “Letters In The Rain” which really impressed as did the super classy power ballad “The World Stopped Turning” which gave Graham a chance to show his range.

“Show A Little Love” with it’s sparkling riff and ear worm chorus rounded off an exceptional evening of American Metal.  It’s been a long wait but for those in Trillians, it was more than worth it.

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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