Over the last couple of years the calibre of package tours has grown considerably and tonight is no exception; three established bands on the top of their game united for a night of pure balls out unadulterated rock and roll.
From the get go the Institute is packed wall to wall, a sea of denim and leather with the vast majority here early to witness a short but very sweet set from Scottish rockers Gun . Perhaps best known for their cover of Cameo’s Word Up (which gets a ridiculously punchy airing tonight) they do a sterling job of whipping the crowd up; every song is short, rocked up and to the point and there is a permanent smile fixed on the face of every band member (something that will become a bit of a theme throughout the night). By the time their short set is over the crowd are definitely warmed up and in fine voice, singing back every word of Shame On You to the obvious delight of frontman Dante.
While they play an absolutely face melting set backed front to back with stone cold classics next band Backyard Babies  seem just a little out of place, if only because it feels that the majority of the crowd don’t really know who they are. That soon changes as they tear through their set with the ferocity of a band half their age, with songs like Brand New Hate, Nomadic and Minus Celsius whipping the crowd up. A particular set highlight was an intensely emotional rendition of Painkiller, dedicated by Dregen to the recently deceased Hellacopters guitarist Robert Dahlqvist. Far edgier and punkier than the other two bands on the bill the Babies come close to stealing the show with their breathtaking set.
It’s a brave and confident band that picks such strong opening supports but within seconds of taking the stage Black Star Riders  prove that there was no risk of being overshadowed. Tearing out from the gates with new album lead track Heavy Fire the band rip seamlessly through a frantic 18 song masterclass of balls out rock and roll. Cuts from their latest album slot in perfectly with their older material and throughout ever member of the band looks to be having the time of their life, more so possibly than the fine voiced crowd in front of them; you just can’t fake this this level of love for your job. The solos are blistering, Ricky Warwick is as charismatic a frontman any band could wish for and the guitar harmonies and interplay between Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson are simply sublime. No more so than during a flawless version of the Thin Lizzy classic The Boys Are Back In Town. By the time set closer Finest Hour has finished the crowd are tired and hoarse, but happy; Saturday night’s don’t really get much better than this.
Check out the full gallery from Lisa Billingham HERE.