Christ on a bike. If you’re reading this then, like us at Sentinel Daily you’ll probably be jerking about in paroxysms of joy at the sheer trad nature of this bill, even if you live half a world away from tonight’s ground zero. Look at those three names. All together on one bill. Bloody hell.
Local Canberrans Reign of Terror actually kick things off; Sentinel Daily has been watching the various incarnations of this band for a full fifteen years and can’t remember the band ever sounding this good so everything would seem to augur well for the coming Saturnalia, yes?
The answer to this is a resounding, joyous YES… Tank take to the stage first; the core of the band, guitarists Cliff Evans and Mick Tucker firing on all cylinders as new vocalist David Readman takes each and every song by the scruff of the neck, allowing the faithful to remember why they love the songs so much yet giving every track a new lease of life into the bargain. In theory, Readman’s classic rock pipes shouldn’t be able to cope with the NWoBHM thunder of This Means War or (He Fell In Love With A) Stormtrooper . In practice they do and the resultant half an hour of noise is a joyful reminder of just how many great tunes this band has penned down the years.
Next up are Geordie nutcases Raven; Sentinel Daily was lucky enough before tonight’s show to sit down with bassist/vocalist John Gallagher to chew the fat about the band’s classic Wiped Out album… and a more humble yet engaging interviewee you couldn’t hope to meet. A few minutes later, however, all hell breaks loose as the band turn The Basement into a maelstrom of heavy metal madness. John and brother Mark are virtuoso madmen, attacking the stage like whirling dervishes, their outlandish stage moves belying levels of skill most bands can only dream about. Song titles like Crash Bang Wallop might sound throwaway, but this is a band that left indelible marks on names like Anthrax and Metallica when they toured together in the early eighties and continues to make music that matters deep into it’s fifth decade in 2019.
Headliners Girlschool face a stiff task after these two top-drawer supporting sets, but against all the odds they hold their own. Kim McAuliffe, thrust into the frontwoman role after the untimely demise of co-conspiritor Kelly Johnson, is an accomplished ring-mistress, backed by some feisty bass playing from the returning Tracey Lamb and the aggressive lead playing of Syteria‘s Jackie Chambers. It’s easy to forget how many great songs this band has had a hand in writing over the years, and even if their best song tonight is a cover- their reading of the Gun classic Race With the Devil is nigh on perfect – their contribution over the years to ‘our kind of music’ should not be underestimated.
And talking of underestimation, if you thought that this was just some sort of tired old nostalgia package, think again – every band here is firing on all cylinders and if any of them are coming to your town soon you would be a fool to miss out – get involved!