Sunderland Empire

16 Nov 2008 – Brassy – Sunderland

Steve Steinman brings the hugely successful Vampires Rock on another jaunt around the UK stopping off in Sunderland once again. Now this city is normally left off the band touring map and with a theatre as good as this that is something that should never happen.

As with last years show there’s a special guest just to give added value to the experience and Toyah fits the role of the Devil Queen perfectly. The stage set hasn’t changed and some of the songs are the same but there seems to be a bigger audience in tonight, a sunday, compared to last year when it was a Friday, word must have got around. There’s also a wider range of audience, mums and dads with their offspring and of course there’s the diehard fans who get into the whole shebang by dressing in appropriate costume, very fitting in this classic theatre.

The lights go down and the intro kicks in with some thunder and lightning flashes and the band saunter on stage and kick straight into Welcome To The Jungle. Now I’m in the dress circle and just as I was about to get to my feet I realized everyone else was staying seated, well it is a Sunday and they’re probably getting over the huge dinner!! Steve, aka The Baron prowls the stage, his vocals cutting through loud and clear. I did feel the guitars, keyboards and kick drum were a bit low in the mix although the snare cuts through. I was in the stalls last year and seem to remember the sound being huge. The dancers are here as well and making full use of those cages on each side as well as the stage. We’re straight into Highway To Hell and you suddenly realize the band are damn good and they’ve got the moves, but tonight is about The Baron and that voice. Just before the next song Stringfellow makes his appearance in a coffin and the banter between the two has me in fits and the crowd love it, yes there is more to this show than the music, it’s theatre.

The Baron leaves the stage and Stringfellow launches into Killer Queen and Toyah makes her entrance, she still has the voice and a command of the stage, not sure of the title of the song she was doing but this led into Burn In Hell before she leaves the stage. With the other principle singer Pandora Rosie Honeybox, introduced into the show she proceeds to sing the crap out of I Need A Hero before Toyah returns and we get School’s Out, she’s wearing some huge boots!!! but she ain’t tall. The story continues and Stringfellow sings People Are Strange with the dancers and Toyah doing some marionette choreography.

As I said, this show isn’t just about the music, the quips in between songs come thick and fast and the chemistry between Stringfellow and The Baron is great. Steve swore at one point and apologised to the kiddies in the audience. We get Since You Been Gone before Pandora and The Baron duet Total Eclipse Of The Heart, before Your Love Is Blind. Toyah returns with another costume change and she does a duet on Rebel Yell with Steve. Finishing off the first set is another duet with The Baron and Pandora, Lay Your Hands On Me and it seems the crowd are starting to loosen up. After a 20 minute break 2nd set opener is Hells Bells, sounding like Meatloaf singing AC/DC, I look to my left and there’s people drinking coffee….this is a rock gig not flaming Friends!!

There seems to be more of a buzz in the audience in this part of the show and the guitarist lets rip with a solo before Toyah launches into Sweet Child O’ Mine with Steve and Pandora joining in at the end. Prelude to the wedding scene and it’s Stringfellow doing White Wedding. The ceremony sees Stringfellow acting as the vicar reading from the book with flames around the edge and ending with “You may bite the bitch…kiss the bride” With this The Baron sinks his teeth into Pandora and fake blood runs down her neck and so she is now a vampire and the band kick into Poison then Deadringer For Love. Toyah returns as the Devil Queen and sings Changes with The Baron before Stringfellow returns rips off his coat and launches into Crazy Little Thing Called Love complete with Freddie style leotard!!! This gets the crowd to their feet and the show is cooking on gas with Pandora singing I Love Rock n Roll. We Will Rock You gets the crowd singing along, then it’s Devil Gate Drive before penultimate song Who Wants To Live Forever. Just before launching into the encore

Steve informs everyone they are taking the show to the Shaw Theatre in London and he will be back in at the Empire in May for Bat, The Symphony with a 40 piece orchestra, I will be there for that!! That’s the cue for the last song of a 2 ? hour show, Bat Out Of Hell and this is where Steve excels, he can do Meatloaf better than the man himself and the crowd lap it up. The band then head to the foyer bar to chat and sign stuff, so there you have it, another fantastic Vampires Rock show. for anyone who hasn’t been, this is a must see show, great songs, great band, great set and you will leave thoroughly entertained.

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