Live Review: Alkaline Trio – O2 Academy, Newcastle, May 25th 2010

Ahead of headlining this year’s Slam Dunk Festival and with a new release under their belt, in the form of This Addiction, modern day punk rock legends, Alkaline Trio return to Newcastle, bringing Welsh pop-punks Attack! Attack! and the explosive Set Your Goals with them.

South Wales four-piece Attack! Attack! sold out the smaller room of this venue just a couple of weeks ago. Tonight, they’re faced with a different challenge; significantly less people to entertain, and even lesser that know who they are. They serve up a happy helping of pop-rock for those still making their way in, and it seems to go down as well as one would imagine. It’s not a cheesy, sugar sweet blend my any means – it’s balls out rock songs for the better part, and with hand-claps and “HEY!”‘s aplenty, it gives the audience a little something more to take part with. Tracks like awesome new single Not Afraid, and closer Too Bad Son go down a treat, and the band serve an ample warming up to start the night.

Six-piece dynamite Set Your Goals attempt to pick up where Attack! Attack! left off, and while opener Summer Jam echoes a pleasing sentiment, it doesn’t really go down too well with tonight’s crowd. There’s but a handful in attendance who make the most of the band’s loud, upbeat sounds. Dualists Jordan Brown and Matt Wilson each wield a microphone and spend the set really tearing the floor up and claiming their territory, but a terrible sound job really does put a downer on what could be a really strong performance. In a very This Will Be The Death Of Us… strong set, Gaia Bleeds uses its macho embrace to pummel a none too impressed crowd, but it’s closer Mutiny that really draws the sing-a-longs tonight. Those who have a clue who Set Your Goals are have the time of their lives; those who don’t stay waiting patiently for the headliners.

As tonight’s headliner’s Alkaline Trio take to the stage to deliver their unique take of dark and broody punk rock, the Academy has finally panned out with a flood of bodies. Reeling songs off thick and fast, the threesome barely have a breath between their relentless set of both old and new from their impressive back catalogue, keeping everyone happy. While tonight’s crowd have been fairly lacklustre up to now, it’s obligatory favourites like My Addiction and Private Eye that receive a jubilant reception. Disappointingly, it does all get a bit samey, as Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano trade vocals with little to no enthusiasm, almost becoming a chore to watch – although, their loyal contingent down at the front seem rather content as they watch their idols. In an effort to spice things up, Skiba takes to the drums during the encore, but it still doesn’t really make for a memorable performance tonight, sadly.

George Cannings (Attack! Attack!, Set Your Goals) and Faye Turnbull (Intro, Alkaline Trio).

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