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Thursday 25 April 2024

A View From The Back Of The Room: Tailgunner, Toledo Steel & The Rattlebacks (Live Review By Matt Bladen)

Tailgunner, Toledo Steel & The Rattlebacks, Fuel Rock Club 18.04.24

I could just recycle my last review of trad metal rising stars Tailgunner (8) when they played Fuel Rock Club but they did play things a bit more differently this time easing off on the covers for more of their originals which was welcomed though Beast In The Night and Painkiller were firm favourites with the Fuel faithful, Craig Cairns hitting those high notes with ease. For me their own songs such as the boisterous Guns For Hire, the nuclear Warhead and Revolution Scream are perfect for some Priest/Accept/Maiden worship, Tailgunner letting the leather fly while trying to navigate the Fuel stage to throw some metal poses. 

Twin axe harmonies from Zach Salvini and Rhea Thompson lead to a guitar battle and In The Hall Of The Mountain King, the Grieg version not the Savatage one, Tailgunner rattling through their set with maturity that comes from relentless touring. Using as their intro tape always throws me off, or gives me flashbacks to my Greek in-laws but as soon as the fret slides, rollicking rhythms from Thomas Hewson’s bass and punching drum beats from Jani Pasanen, kick in we’re back in Blighty with some NWOBHM power. 

Back on tour again with KK’s Priest in August, I expect more of the same but each time the British metallers improve on their showing from last time, taking up the mantle laid down by the 80’s glory days with ease.

I’m doing this backwards now as like I said it wasn’t long since I’d seen Tailgunner, but last time it was two local bands that supported. This time it was some hand picked support from West Sussex classic rockers The Rattlebacks (7) who aren’t the sort of band you expect to be out with two trad/speed metal acts. Still they came on with attitude, drawing from the bluesy rock n roll swagger of Aerosmith, a bit of G’N’R and some grunge for those who love plaid. They played a good rock set with a weighty rhythm section, two skilled guitar players and a singer who had the right voice but clearly had never played Fuel before as he turned up in a fur coat! Sweaty, booty shaking Brighton rock that got the night moving.

After this though it was our first taste of British Steel, with a band named after a hardened type of Spanish steel that was used by Hannibal. I’d wanted to see Toledo Steel (8) for a while and with two albums, two EP’s and an early years comp for those that didn’t get the EP’s they were actually the most experience band on the bill forming in 2011. They made the most of what I think was their first show in Cardiff with a set drawn from both of their albums and a couple from their EP they showcased the NWOBHM sound they are very, very good at. 

Influenced again by Maiden/Priest, they are a little more rounded than Tailgunner with a few sleaze/glam elements creeping in on Visions In The Fire driven by Felix Dock’s bass. Founder member Rich Rutter (vocals) looks for the crowd to sing back as co-founder Matt Dobson (drums) keeps the beat. With the faster cuts such as the galloping On The Loose, Writings On The Wall, the speedy City Lights or the Priest-like Rock Nights the riffs of Tom Potter and Michael Lewis come thick and fast as Rutter explodes into falsetto screams. They closed with Speed Killer/Toledo Steel gave the headliners a bar to try and beat. I’ll be seeing them again as soon as I can!

On a Thursday in April it was proven that classic British metal and also classic hard rock are both alive and well.

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