at The Cluny, Newcastle, U.K., February 20, 2023

ESPRIT D'AIR (Live at The Cluny, Newcastle, U.K., February 20, 2023)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s been quite a cosmopolitan time on Newcastle’s music scene so far this year with bands from as far afield as Russia, Australia, America and France all playing in recent weeks. Tonight it was the turn of Japan’s Esprit D’Air to show their stuff.

But first, there was the small matter of special guests, Diamond Black, a band formed by current Sisters of Mercy guitarist, Ben Christo who also took on the role of frontman following the departure of lead singer, J.I Turunen.

Despite only a handful of singles under their belt as yet, their 40 minutes or so on stage, felt more like that of a headliner. A powerful, energetic performance backed up by some wonderfully dark, melancholic Goth influenced gems with towering melodies from the likes of “Through The Misery”, “The Scarlet” and “Dark Anthems”.

Christo certainly grabbed the frontman role by the horns aided and abetted by bassist Adam Lightspeed and Jan-Vincent Velazco on drums making one potent power trio, pulling plenty of guitar hero poses while delivering some stirring melodies and none so more than on the inspired set closer, “Sorrow”. Expect to hear a lot more from Diamond Black very soon.

Esprit D’Air frontman, Kai, is an inspiration to many. Not only does he write and perform with his band, but he manages them, books the gigs and does all of the promotion too – a literal one man band in every sense.

Although Esprit D’Air started life in 2010 as a full band, only Kai remains from the original line-up and is now the only official member backed up by session and touring musicians including drummer, Jan-Vincent Velazco, drawing on all of his reserves of energy, playing his second set of the night.

Drawing on their two albums including last year’s Oceans, Esprit D’Air delivered a set crammed full of bulldozing riffs, dark, yet uplifting moods and big, big melodic hooks all wrapped up in an energetic performance.

Songs such as “Ocean’s Call” and “Calling You” have the commercial clout to reach a wider audience while “The Abyss” mined an altogether more aggressive vein with Kai’s guttural growls more than a match to anyone’s.

New single “Shizuku” packed a hefty punch with a nice, grinding riff to boot and when Christo joined the band on stage for “Dead Zone” and again for the closing cover of Maiden’s “The Trooper”, the atmosphere went off the scale.

Looking around at the sold out crowd buzzing with excitement was a sight to behold and a testament to the hard work that Kai put in to arranging this tour. Just goes to show what you can do when you put your mind to it and put in the graft.

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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