Saturday evening,  in the centre of town, down Westgate Street is the O2 Academy, this impressive building that stands on the corner, originally built in 1927 as a picture house and like most buildings of its era it has seen many transformations and reincarnations. Today it is a music venue, slight glimpses of Art Deco is still within its features.

Tonight’s headline band are The Blue Öyster Cult who currently embarking on a UK/US tour, the current popularity for this rock band is huge, with ‘cult’ groupies following the band to every show so far – which the band point out and recognise, pretty impressive in a crowd that must have been nigh on 2000.

The Blue Öyster club are historical, with record sales of over 24 million since forming in New York in 1967. I must confess I was surprised at the turnout I never knew Newcastle to have such a huge following.  The Blue Öyster Cult has seen many transformations and reincarnations, the band line up over the years reads like an A-Z telephone book and fortunately not like an obituary as only one original band member has sadly passed (Allen Lanier). With an expectant crowd posed the band who are sometimes referred to as 3.O.C (a pun on the original remaining members) take to the stage with rapturous applause.

The line up for tonight has band founders Buck Dharma (lead vocals/lead guitar) and Eric Bloom (lead vocals/stun guitar) they are joined by three other band members who have joined over the past 50 years. This band in many ways are rock royalty, their set is met by with jubilant crowd who gesticulate with their imaginative air guitars, Eric and Buck take turns with singing vocals on tracks like “ETI” (Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and “Godzilla” that encumbers a genre of occult rock.

The stage turns blue, the band begins with the track “Tattooed Vampire”  which packs a punch and really show that the band is in the room.  The band go straight into the second track leaving a quick interlude to acknowledge the room. 

Stand out tracks of the night are “Burnin’ for You” which evidence the pure powerhouse of harmony between both Bloom and Dharma’s vocals.  Another stand out track, Bloom acknowledging the late great Allen Lanier and collaborator Patti Smith (Smith and Lanier were in a relationship during the 70’s) with the track “Tyranny and Mutation”.

The band’s interactions with the crowd are warm, taking requests and asking the crowd to vote for the next song between “Shooting Shark” and “Harvest Moon”, the crowd cheered for the latter, which is a track that shows the musicianship of Dharma with a screaming guitar riff and quick tempo change.

Dharma introduces the next track “Then Came The Last Days Of May” with a tone of seriousness, a song based on a true story written over forty years ago but stays with Dharma to this day.  Reminiscing about him some friends renting an old ford and deciding to go for a road trip with only one making it back alive.  This track is phenomenal live – a definite must see.

The evening is superbly rounded off with their all-time classic from the 1976 album “Agents of Fortune”, the mind-blowing, rip chording, cowbell-clanging “Don’t Fear The Reaper”  – this might be the song that will always define them to those not within the O2 tonight, either way, it’s an all-time belter of a tune and I was elated to have seen them perform it live. Top act.

Reviewer – Carmichael – THE SLABCITY SHOW

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