Are the ultimate road warriors doing a high end vino and getting better with age?
Blue Oyster Cult’s stellar show to a jam-packed room would seem to back up the theory: a set full of class from a band going through way more than the motions.
It helps that Buck Dharma remains a fret-fluid stylist sliding out the Cult’s trademark riffs, effortless and often awesome.
No disadvantage either that in Eric Bloom, sun-shaded and slick, the other half of the band’s heart still beats strong.
And with the Jules Radino/Richie Castelland rhythm combo laying down an airtight platform for the stars to shine, it’s probably no surprise the band was on fire.
Stepping out to a roof troubling reception, they kicked into Stairway To The Stars and pretty much kept the pedal where it was meant to be.
Dharma and Bloom seem almost telepathic, working seamlessly after a lifetime sharing the stage.
But this never came over as some switched-off stroll. They never got lazy or took the gig for granted.
Instead, the band kept the energy sky high as the set stomped and swaggered its way through a mighty impressive back catalogue.
No surprise that an irresistible Burnin’ For You got the rapture treatment, still one of Bloom’s finest song-writing moments.
A no-brainer, too, that (Don’t Fear) The Reaper and that ridiculously brilliant riff became a raucous treat.
The ovation was raw and heartfelt and the acclaim richly deserved.
And for HRH, damn but Then Came The Last Days Of May steals into your very soul!
The support baton rested in the dynamic and deeply impressive hands of Jared James Nichols, a man who looks like he’s raided David Coverdale’s wardrobe and helped himself to the Head-and-Shoulders as well.
Locks flowing and axe at his mercy, the Wisonsinite gave the hall a serious blast of big, breathless blues rock.
Nichols plays with a potent blend of power and grace, dazzling without seeming to try and always beautifully paced.
Behind him Dennis Holm and Erik Sandin were hammer hard, a fluid back beat never less than rock solid.
Maybe the quality of the songs don’t yet quite match the awesome technical ability but that’s just by comparison.
Playin’ For Keeps is almost certainly one of those sly slow burners you learn to love, Don’t Be Afraid had impact and the fresh single Last Chance might – encouragingly – have been the best moment.
What no one can deny is that Nichols seems more and more like the authentic article, a stone-cold star in waiting with the licks to lay bigger venues than this to waste.
Images By Gordon Armstrong