Blue Oyster Cult show why they're one of America's greatest rock bands - Newcastle gig reviewed

Hot on the heels of their celebratory 45th anniversary tour in 2017, veteran American rock band Blue Oyster Cult returned to strike while the iron was hot.

Sunday, 24th February 2019, 14:23 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th February 2019, 14:27 pm
Blue Oyster Cult performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

And on the warmest day of the year so far, Newcastle was certainly up for it last night, with the O2 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; hence Tattoo Vampire from their platinum-selling Agents of Fortune album was a welcome surprise to open proceedings, with Before The Kiss, A Redcap and the song that inspired JK Rowling, Career Of Evil, following in quick succession.

Blue Oyster Cult performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

The sprightly pop of Burnin' For You came early in the set and demonstrated the perfect versatility of BOC.

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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.

Blue Oyster Cult performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

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 band's 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 America`s great rock bands.

And with a new album in the works there's plenty still to look forward to.