Newcastle 67
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Fireball’s Fuelling The Fire Hottest Band Results: Winners Of Flogging Molly & The Bronx Support Announced For Newcastle And Glasgow Dates

A pair of excellent bands have filled the support slots.

Lighting up the dismal winter months, Fireball’s Fuelling The Fire Tour has become a seriously unmissable fixture these past few years. Drenched in that familiar cinnamon-flavoured whiskey-warmth and boasting a consistently red-hot cross-section of musical talent, it’s a particularly welcome respite for the frozen northern wastes. All of which makes tonight’s finals of their Hottest Band’ competition – to select openers for December 5th and 6ths Glasgow and Newcastle stops – such a fiercely competitive affair.

Tucking scorecards into our battle-jacket, practicing our Simon Cowell scowl in the mirror and smashing back a few shots of the spiced stuff, we spring-heeled our way down to the O2 Newcastle Academy 2 to join a seasoned judging panel for an evening of good times and delicious drinks, hard rock and harder decisions.

Kicking-off a second round that distinctly lacks the celtic-influenced folk-punk paddywackery of London, we’ve got the difficult task of choosing between three excellent Glaswegian propositions who’ve made the three-hour trip from Scotland’s South-west to England’s North-East: youthful pop-punk quintet Deadbeat Paradise, ear-thumping hardcore crew Dead By Monday and arena-rockers-in-waiting Take Today.

More energetic than a rave at the Red Bull factory and packing an apparently encyclopaedic grasp of all things 90s pop-punk, Deadbeat Paradise have the superstar potential of a (very) young Neck Deep. Their component parts are still gelling, however, and their live chemistry needs a few more practice laps before they’re truly competitive at band-battles like these. Led on by frontman Murray Muzza’ Taylor, Dead By Monday have all the chemistry of a Molotov cocktail. Comparatively overflowing with confidence and packing an aggression that veers between Chelsea Grin’s savagery and Every Time I Die’s swagger, there’s just a lingering doubt that they mightn’t quite fit the party-hearty mood of the Fireball Tour.

It also doesn’t help that eventual winners Take Today appear to be on a totally different level. Channelling a lineage of Scots forbears including Idlewild, Biffy Clyro and Twin Atlantic, their massive swell sees the whole room singing along to latest single Faith. The ease with which they sweep through this relatively intimate space bodes well for their ability to command the gaping O2 Glasgow Academy.

Newcastle 50

Take Today

There’s even more competition amongst the Geordies. The five-way Mexican stand-off between off-kilter three-piece punks Northern Horizon, uncompromising power-punks LoGoz, groovy Sunderland collective Thieves Of Liberty, bonkers alt. rockers Digits and pop-punk wildcards Too Close For Missiles can still only end with one band left standing, mind.

Jumping immediately outside the box, there’s something pleasingly esoteric about Northern Horizon’s Adolescents-alike haphazard assault. Still, amongst some quarters there’s also a little confusion over what sort of band they really want to be: louche grungers or spiky punks. Digits are every bit as weird, albeit significantly more focused in their leftfield attack. Channelling Reuben, At The Drive-In and – at times – The Dillinger Escape Plan, even if they’re roughly 300% stranger than most in attendance seem up for, their message that everyone should Get some Digits in you!” won’t soon be forgotten. 

Nailing the pop-punk aesthetic and unashamedly aping The Offspring, Green Day and blink-182 in their sounds, there’s a lot to love about Too Close For Missiles (within slapping distance then, presumably). Moments of looseness and a failure to really stamp their own identity on their songs costs them tonight, however. Rest assured, more victorious days lie ahead. LoGoz, by comparison, have their schtick absolutely nailed. Nodding to North-eastern brethren The Wildhearts while injecting a punkier edge that’s equal parts Rancid and The Ramones they’re definitely the sort of lads we’d like in our corner in a punk rock street-fight, and almost win the night.

Newcastle 64

Thieves Of Liberty

It takes the utterly infectious sounds of Thieves Of Liberty to deny them. Led on by irresistible front-lady Lidya Balaban there’s a confidence and unpractised AC/DC-alike classic rock timelessness about what the Sunderland blow-ins do and they’re not long in getting the bodies moving. This song’s about getting mortal,” grins Lidya, introducing soon-to-be-released banger Medicine Wizard, and let’s not forget whose tour this is…” Indeed, come closing time, the whole room’s raising a glass to them as they move on to their big night with the heavyweights of LA folk-punk and hardcore. Well deserved! 

Next up, we’ve got tomorrow night’s stop in Sheffield. Steel city has a hell of a reputation for producing sh*t‑hot heavy bands, but tonight will take a hell of a beating. Regardless, we’ll be there with bottle of Fireball in hand to make sure the gears are – hic! – well lubricated for the hottest tour of the year. Cheers! 

Posted on September 11th 2018, 9:13a.m.
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