It's a cold December Friday outside and we' re in to Manchester's Roadhouse club for Goldblade's X-Mas party. Several hundred punters are packed into this neat little venue with its low ceiling, low stage and band right in yer face - no mean feat when you consider that Goldblade's last vinyl outing was 1998's "Drop the bomb" long player on the now defunct Ultimate imprint.

What have the band been up to over the last two years? Well, by the looks of things chiselling down a whole new set on sonic exocets to unleash on the unsuspecting world. They don't so much walk on to stage as much as explode on to it and it's clear from the first guitar chord that they boys mean business. They open up with newie "Do you believe in the power of rock'n'roll?" With its thumping bass drum driving it along this is Goldblade at their sloganeering best. Gone are former rapper/percussionist Wayne Simmonds and brass section. This is the new lean and mean Goldblade for the 21st century. Focal point is frontman and all round renaissance man of rock'n'roll itself John Robb. He commands the stage with the authority and swagger of somebody who has been fronting bands since he formed noise-art rockers The Membranes back in 1977. The physical energy of Robb and his fellow renegades is unrivalled as they immediately energise the crowd into a frenzy of sweaty moshing bodies - something that continues throughout the whole of the band's blistering set and which results (quite literally) in them bring the roof down.

Drummer Rob Hayes and bass player (and long time side kick of Robb) Keith Curtis form the bedrock of Goldblade's blueprint for punk'n'roll mayhem - pounding out a perfect rhythm for guitarist Jay Taylor to lay his killer six string riffs over. Their influences from rock'n'roll's Holy Grail itself are there for all to see - the punk and attitude of the Pistols and the Clash, the rock stylings and sharp attire of Elvis Presley and the energy and sonics of Big Black and Iggy Pop. The new material emphasises the harder direction of the band - less soul, more power - more than evident in "Who's the killa?" and the tongue-in-cheek (sorry!) "Kiss my ass". Old favourites keep the faithful happy - "Strictly Hardcore" which momentarily grazed the charts back in 1997 and the wah-wah guitar drenched of their last single "Hairstyle". The decidedly Cramps influenced "What a life" leads to further mosh-pit action and by the time band launch their final salvo in the shape of "Motherfucker" with its skull-pounding bass line the crowd are flagging to keep up. Even then the band manage one final surge, encoring with "Black Elvis" and new song "Little baby satellite".

And then they are gone, leaving us to ponder just why the likes of current NME faves At The Drive In and the rest of the trendy US invasion of noise rockers are stealing the headlines. On this showing Goldblade and their new LP should grab a few headlines of their own in 2001.

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