Bullet For My Valentine, Carling Academy, Newcastle <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

In 2006, Bullet For My Valentine cemented their reputation as British heavy metal's bright young things, and the UK's answer to the current buzz band of the American side of the genre, Trivium. However, they still divide the critics and the fans; depending on which side of the purist divide you stand, Bullet For My Valentine either perfectly capture the zeitgeist with their melodic, riff-laden hard rock, or they are a worrying portent of the genre's dilution into saccharine, chart-pleasing "goo".

So when last November's scheduled shows were cancelled after the front man Matt Tuck finally succumbed to a combination of a punishing tour schedule and bouts of laryngitis and tonsillitis, it was something of an understatement to say that the response was somewhat mixed.

A couple of months later, there seems to be no sign of that changing. For every kid headbanging like it was their last night on earth, there was a pair of jaded hecklers wishing it was. So it was a rather apologetic Tuck who thanked the fans for not deserting them since the postponement.

At heart, Bullet For My Valentine are consummate crowd-pleasers. Despite the fact that their front man is still in recovery (Tuck's vocal coach stopped by on the day of the gig), all the stops were duly pulled out.

While the familiar likes of "4 Words (To Choke Upon)" and "Tears Don't Fall" took their place on the set list, this was a night of firsts; first rescheduled show, first inclusion of a cover version and, most important, the first airing of new material from their forthcoming second album. "Scream On Fire" and "Disappear" indicate that the band have no intention of abandoning their combination of near-poppy choruses in melodic construction with the traditional side of heavy-metal bombast.

Even the genre purists had their moment, with a record-perfect rendition of "Creeping Death" by Metallica. The guitarist Michael "Padge" Padget had mastered the required lightning-speed fretwork with almost laughable ease. Indeed, the only crowd-pleaser to miss the cut was hit "All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)".

That's not to say that the band were without their "cheesy" moments, as Tuck chose to close the show standing on the drum rise, his guitar perched precariously just above his crotch, both hands in classic satanic salute. On the other hand, maybe that just goes to show that Bullet For My Valentine are more "real" than some give them credit for being.

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