Artist:  Johnny Zhivago

Venue: Trillians Rock Bar, Newcastle

Date: 4 June 2001  

Even before the gig had started the band had two major obstacles in their way. Firstly it was a Monday night, which is any town, is always a bad night for bands to play.

Secondly the flyers had them down under the wrong name, oh dear, tonight it wasn't Johnny Zhivago playing, it was their long lost uncle Dr Zhivago! Like I said not a good start for anyone to have to go on with.

Outside the weather was horrible. Inside the crowd was practically non-existent. The band sat in bewilderment at the end of the room wondering when everyone would arrive.

The few of us that had realized in time who it really was that was going to be playing here tonight were starting to get worried. Would they call it a day and leave without playing? It was not looking good for either side.

However the band had come a long way up from London to play here tonight and decided to take the first set rather than headline tonight. Would it make that much difference?

Half the people knew who they were, the other half had wandered in off the street to see a band called Dr Zhivago and probably wouldn't realize who it was they were watching in any particular order anyway.

The band took a deep breath and headed on stage at around 9 o' clock to the claps of the people who sat huddled together on the front tables.

They did in fact know who it was and were really pleased they had not only come to play here tonight, but also relieved that they were still going to go ahead with it. For such a long time we had been hearing such wondrous things about this band and it looked like at last we were going to find out if all the rumours were true.

The band looked ready for action as they stormed into their opening song 'Twenty First Century'. The band gave it their all and it sounded really good. The room started to look interested as they went on to the next one 'Bitch'.

Most may not have been sure who they were watching but they seemed to be enjoying it all the same. Realizing that we didn't bite the bands took it that this was as good as it was going to get and they were going to have to make the best of it.

The band jokingly made light of the fact that the room was a bit sparse tonight and that they were wrongly named on the flyers.

They laughed at being billed as Dr. Zhivago and said surely they didn't look like Omar Sharif? The room laughed and things started to relax after that.

Dressed head to toe in black lead singer/bassist Lee Wray certainly didn't look a bit like Omar at all peaking out from behind his dark floppy fringe.

To his right we saw the bands other lead singer Steve Maloney, (yes, they take it in turns). A man who looks like he has walked straight out of a new romantics band with his long blonde fringe and super cool dress style. Dressed in black suit and open necked white shirt he had certainly thought long and hard about how he wanted to portray himself to the world at large.

Both guys had big fringes and both guys had wonderful voices.

Jumping around like a true loon on the left hand side of the stage we had guitarist Jamie Hunwick giving it his all. I'm not entirely sure if he was aware of the room and the people in it tonight. He certainly seemed to be going wild in his own little world throughout the whole performance.

To say he had plenty of energy is a huge understatement, this guy was possessed! He was like a Tasmanian devil with a flop of blonde curls thrown in for good luck. Even his eyes looked crazed as he played. Someone ought to tie a rope to one of his legs incase he takes off during one of his performances.

Last time I saw a look in someone's eyes like that it was Ozzy's. What's really scary is that he was high on drugs where as this guy just looked high on life itself! He jumped, he twirled, and he played like he had sold his soul to the devil himself.

Behind this amazing looking threesome we had drummer Neil Roberts. A man who helped keep things together with his perfect timing throughout the whole set.

How could anyone just sit there and not be infected with the beat? I saw more than one foot tapping along to the songs as the night went on. Backseat drummers each and every one of us!

How would I describe the bands sound? Well it's most definitely rock, mixed together with lashings of punkish attitude and a loud strong delivery of both guitars and drums.

But that's not all! Oh no! It also has a smooth and classy sound to it courtesy of the magnificent vocals of Messrs Wray & Maloney. All in all it has plenty of bite and it is this mighty combination that makes the songs so addictive.

Anyone familiar with the Classic Rock magazine will have instantly recognized the song 'Just Wanna Be Loved' which featured on the Classic Cuts CD No. 13.

When the band first started to play it I wondered why it sounded so familiar and then it dawned on me where I had heard it from before. This is an excellent example of the type of rock this band perform. It's loud, it's furious, but it's perfectly polished and has quite a sexy little delivery to it when performed live.

Dig it out, have a listen and then some and see them next time they play your town! Go on, you know you want to.

The set went over at a rapid pace with very little talking between songs which was a shame, we would have liked to have had the chance to truly hear what the band had to say for themselves a bit more. It all came to a glorious end with a cover of the song 'Bad Liquor'.

Hopefully one day the band will forgive the rock fans in Newcastle for not turning out in force to see them tonight. One things for sure, no matter where they play if they give it as much energy and commitment they gave us tonight then they will soon have people banging down their doors pledging allegiance to them and their music. 

I for one can't wait for the new album to come out later in the year.

Setlist:  Twenty first century Bitch, Just wanna be Loved, One bad Day, Never Enough, Show me your Disease, No Compromise, Love me like it's the end of the World, Diving for Pearls, Rocket 69, Bad Liquor

 

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