at The Central Bar, Gateshead, U.K., October 31, 2023

THE SPLIT SQUAD (Live at The Central Bar, Gateshead, U.K., October 31, 2023)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s not every day of the week that a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer pops into a small pub on a cold and wet Tuesday night, yet Blondie drumming legend, Clem Burke, did just that with his mates as part of The Split Squad in the rather wonderful and ornate Central Bar on the outskirts of Gateshead.

The Split Squad are something of an U.S underground super group featuring Keith Streng on guitar and vocals from The Fleshtones, guitarist Kurt Bloch of The Fastbacks, keyboard player Josh Kantor of The Baseball Project along with Parallax Project bassist, vocalist and band leader, Michael Giblin and between them they have decades of experience and dozens of album behind them but tonight, their shared history was forgotten as they threw themselves headlong into The Split Squad territory.

Drawing on both of their studio albums including their latest Another Cinderella this was a veritable feast of Power Pop drenched in gorgeous melodies with a rather grubby underbelly of raucous, gut punching Punk encrusted Rock ‘n’ Roll. A rather glorious combination all wrapped up with a high energy performance powered from the back by Burke’s intense powerhouse drumming and anchored by the pumping bass of Giblin.

With songs such as Glam backbeat of “Showstopper” to the dynamic groove of “Invisible Lightning” and the buoyant Pop of “Hey DJ”, The Split Squad were on fire feeding off the crowd packed into the intimate hall.

Although there was little room to move around on stage that didn’t stop Streng from leaping around pulling all the shapes in the guitar hero book or from wandering off into the middle of the crowd intermittently often with his chair to stand on and view the band from the crowd, much to the delight of everyone lucky enough to get a ticket.

As the show neared its end with “Now Hear This” it looked like it was all over yet there was still time for a riotous romp through the Johnny Thunders classic “One Track Mind” leaving the shell-shocked crowd dazed by a Rock ‘n’ Roll smash and grab.

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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