Venue: 02 Academy, NewcastleDate: 1 March 2014
A lot can happen in a year when you're in a band, can't it. You can be playing to a small crowd at a local pub during the Easter Bank Holiday in 2013, then Christ on a bike, you've sold out the 02 Academy 2 the following year for the launch of your new single! We bow down in respect, Tyneside's own Blackjack!! Not many so-called 'bigger acts' have managed to do that over the years, so this is no mean feat for these lads, and it just goes to show that if you put the work in, you reap the rewards. And tonight, it was us, the audience, that were rewarded with a show worthy of the 02.
After recently blowing away the headline act at Trillians a week or so ago, this was the one a boisterous crowd were looking forward to, and as Airbourne's 'Blackjack' fell silent from the speakers, the crowd erupted as our own Blackjack hit the stage with a quick 'Hello, We are Blackjack, and we play Rock 'n Roll' from frontman Ian Robertson, then they burst into 'Just Getting Started', and the night was theirs! Next up was 'Sad Game', where the lads just blew the place away with their enthusiasm on stage, not one of them keeping still for a moment, well, apart from drummer Davey Knott who obviously has to sit down, but even he was giving it welly on the skins all the same! That enthusiasm had obviously been soaked up by the crowd down in front of the band, because they were dancing and jumping about like rabid meerkats, so as the rockin' riffs of 'Nowhere In Sight' penetrated the air, well.... lets just say the place went up a couple of notches! This song showed how good this band are and how far they've come in that year as they played it like they've been doing it all their lives, guitarists Mark Elrington and James Knott grinning at each other as they played against themselves in unison, Robertson's vocals hitting heights that make your eyes water and your nuts tighten in the process!
'Hazy Kinda Craze' is the type of song that oozes class, and tonight they couldn't have played it any better, getting a bunch of young ladies next to me and my two mates gyrating to the sleazy groove that is the main force behind the song, then the night takes a 'what the hell!' turn as the band stop, Robertson asks if we're thirsty, and a girl comes on stage with a full tray of shots, and of course we're invited on stage for a drink, which quite a few people do!! A definite first for the 02. Once it all settled down, the funkyfied 'Never Be The One' has the audience in the palm of the enigmatic frontman's hand, showing how it should be done, but all the better as we're on home territory tonight. The band step up to the plate again on 'Shoulda Stayed At Home', both singer and band now excelling with their energetic showpiece, and as the 'alternative' vibe of 'Never be The Same Again' soars over the place, a six-string duel commences to add a bit of cut and thrust to the song, bassist James Robertson standing back just getting on with his part like one cool dude amongst the mayhem!!
Oh yeah, now's the time to say thanks to the person who barged into me while i was taking a photo, causing my camera to freeze for the rest of the gig!!
'Ranger' saw what you could describe as a drummers delight, the moment where Davey Knott shone as he performed a great short solo on his kit (good Angus t-shirt too!), but as per usual, the singer owned the stage for this one. No disrespect to the rest of the band here, but it is his job to be the focal point most of the time, and he does it brilliantly, as he did all night. He gets the audience to jump up and down as one, no matter what ages there were here, which must have been a bit worrying for the security staff, especially when it partially collapsed a few years ago!
Getting back to their bluesy rock roots on 'Stay Another Day', (Free anyone?), Ian took time to recap that this gig was to boost the new single, £5 for 3 songs, in a case too. That's ASDA price!! Cheeky sod, but a good advert for the franchise. Now, where will you ever hear a more filthy song as the one (aptly) named 'Give me A Taste'?! Granted, Steel Panther go for the jugular, but at least Blackjack are more tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended!), yet they still introduce a giant inflatable c*ck / penis to the show, as if we didn't know what the song is about, lads! Along with the attached beach balls for effect, this went down a storm, giving the night a true party atmosphere as it was thrown all over the room, back to front and on stage at one point! Good header, Ian!
A nice touch from the band on their thanks to the sound man, staff and security and Loft Studios for all their help, before we got our photos taken by the lads, then set finisher 'The Gent' ends the night. Or does it! No, the band only break into a raucous version of Led Zep's 'Rock And Roll', which set the crowd off into frenzy-town all over again, Ian joining in with some nifty footwork of his own while the rest of the band give it LARGE! Is that it, then? Nah, time for just one more, and it's with crowd participation on vocals that 'Freebird' closes the set for good, with James Robson still the cool dude on show as he came to the front of the stage as the song came to it's finale. With that, the 02 erupted with well deserved accolades from the audience for a truly great, and at times surreal show, from the finest classic rock band to come from our region in a very long time.
Again, we bow down in mucho respect, guys. Brilliant!
Review by: Robb Baldwin
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