at Trillians, Newcastle, U.K., February 15, 2024

RAVEN (Live at Trillians, Newcastle, U.K., February 15, 2024)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s hard to believe that it’s just over a year since Alcatrazz and Girlschool played in this very venue together along with NWOBHM veterans Tytan. The tour went down so well that they decided to do it all over again this time switching Geordie Metal heroes, Raven for Tytan with Airforce opening the show.

With a revolving headliner each night, the running order would change from night to night and with four bands on the bill it was going to be a tight squeeze which meant that Airforce took to the stage at the unusually early time of 7:15pm.

Following his exit from Iron Maiden after recording the legendary Soundhouse Tapes, drummer Doug Sampson wasted no time in teaming up with guitarist Chop Pitman and bassist Tony Hatton to form Airforce. Having toured sporadically over the years it now seems to be moving up a gear with the addition of powerhouse vocalist Flavio Lino.

A short and punchy set built around galloping riffs, thunderous drums and Flavino’s soaring vocals gave this a real vintage Maiden. In “Sniper”, “Finest Hour” and “Fight” they had the songs to pull in those late arrivals Airforce certainly left their mark.

Alcatrazz were up next and since being joined by former Rainbow/Michael Schenker lead singer, Doogie White, seem to be having something of a late career renaissance. With original keyboard player Jimmy Waldo and guitar wiz Joe Stump, everything is in place for a cracking set.

They certainly didn’t disappoint with a few choice vintage cuts from No Parole Form Rock ‘n’ Roll including “Jet To Jet” and “Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live” nestling comfortably alongside the new material from last year’s Take No Prisoners release with “Little Viper” and “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even” sounding particularly lively.

White, of course, excelled on the material old and new and even threw in “Wolf To The Moon” and “Too Late For Tears” from his Rainbow days.

With little time to draw breath Girlschool took to the stage and immediately stamped their mark on the evening with an opening salvo of “Demolition” and “C’mon Let’s Go” with drummer Denise Dufort driving it from the back.

Long time guitarist Jackie Chambers sparred and duelled with Kim McAullife while bassist Tracy Lamb kept it tight. With a catalogue going back well over 45 years they had plenty of material to draw from which meant there was space for “Guilty As Sin” from their 2015 album of the same name alongside stalwarts like “Future Flash” and “Nothing To Lose”.

There was even space for a couple of new songs from their latest album WT Forty Five including a fine Punky “It Is What It Is’” and “Upto No Good” which saw Tracey Lamb step up to the microphone before “Race With The Devil” kicked back to the early days

Their roots with Motörhead run deep so it was only fitting for them to add some bombast with the classic “Bomber” but as the clock ran down, that was it. It was curfew time meaning no “Emergency” which McAullife proclaimed was the only time in their career that they haven’t preformed the song. Despite this abrupt ending it didn’t derail what was a commanding performance.

With no time to waste, Raven took to the stage to bring the evening to a close and these barmy Geordies playing on their home turf absolutely smashed it with “Hell Patrol” and “The Power” hammering along at breakneck speed with guitarist Mark Gallagher pulling all of the guitar-face contortions possible while spitting out some truly tower block destroying riffs. It’s no wonder that Metallica looked up to them in their early days when supporting them on a Stateside tour.

With time rapidly running out Raven performed the veritable smash and grab with “Rock ‘Til You Drop” and “Top Of The Mountain” a sheer riff monster that even some drum troubles couldn’t derail.

“On and On” must be the closest Raven come to a commercial single and certainly has a big hook to draw you in but a frantic set closer “Crash, Bang Wallop” sums up Raven in one wild, reckless, cataclysmic song.

An exhausting, high energy sweat-fest of an ending to a thoroughly enjoyable evening of everything that is great about Heavy Metal.


  • 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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