I wear my Junkyard t-shirt with pride. I saw them back in the day and I saw them last year at Hull Hair Metal Heaven, albeit with a 26-year gap. Now I get to see them do an actual headline set at my local venue, just a short walk from my house, 27 years since first seeing them open for The Almighty.
Over here as support to Blackberry Smoke by personal request of singer Charlie Starr shows the respect these Hollywood veterans have in certain circles and rightly so. Lumped in with the late 80’s glam scene, they were always more Steve Earl than Motley Crue. Times may have changed, styles may have changed but Junkyard will always be Junkyard. Bowing to no trends or fads, they play rock ‘n’ roll like they always have, honest songs with dirty riffs and sleazy vocals that get under the fingernails and refuse to budge.
First up we have The Jokers. I’ve not seen or heard The Jokers before tonight and to be fair the Northern band were highly impressive. I guess you could put them right in the Classic Rock category, think Bad Company meets Shortino-era Quiet Riot. You can’t knock their energy and enthusiasm for starters and I think they turned it up to 11, maybe a bit too loud for the sparse turnout at Fibbers tonight.
Singer Wane Parry looks like a young Dave King in his Fastway days with Bolans’ corkscrew hair and what a damn fine set of pipes he has. Diminutive guitarist Paul Hurst is a poundshop Warner E Hodges and an excellent player who gives his all, pulling off massive riffs and licks aplenty. Several times he downs his Les Paul and comes out into the audience to beckon people to come to the front. He partly succeeded by pulling forward some birds who were probably wives and girlfriends of the band to be honest.
Vintage Trouble’s ‘Run Like The River’ blats from the PA as an introduction for Junkyard’s set tonight. With the cover of last year’s excellent ‘High Water’ album emblazoned on the screens behind them, they launch straight into ‘Life Sentence’. It’s been the opener every time I have seen them, no wonder, it’s a killer introduction. “That’s my life, that’s my way…that’s my life sentence” shouts Roach as he swings his mic stand around the stage, no truer words have been sung with such conviction.
Dressed in their obligatory matching denim cut-offs, Junkyard are a gang who wear their colours proudly on their backs and their brand of biker blues is for real. The raw, punk rock delivery of David Roach is the perfect match for the bluesy twin guitars of Jimmy James and Tim Mosher. Uber cool Quireboys bassist Gary Ivin, standing in for the absent Todd Muscat, is a fine replacement and keeps a perfect rhythm with original drummer Pat Muzingo.
New songs such as ‘Faded’ and the punky ‘W.F.L.W.F.’ fit perfectly with the old standards and it’s as great to hear these new songs live as it is the classics. The ever cool ‘Back On The Streets’ and the bluesy ‘Long Way Home’ are played early and sound sublime.
Jimmy James breaks a string midway through ‘Blooze’, so as the pair of guitarists dart off stage together to re-string (they didn’t even bring a spare?), the rhythm section keeps the song going, bassist Gaz keeps the rumbling bassline jamming stage front as David returns with an extended vocal rap. A fine rock ‘n’ roll moment to savor.
‘Hands Off’ remains one of my favourite Junkyard songs and tonight, as Tim picks those classic chords and Jimmy rips out that bluesy lead, it sends shivers up the back of my spine.
Of course, they close with the obligatory ‘Hollywood’ their biggest hit, but not their greatest song by far.
No encore’s, no surprises and a no-frills approach that delivered just what you expect from a Junkyard show. There is talk of them returning to these shores in the not so distant future, and while I’m sure the packed out shows with Blackberry Smoke have been rewarding for the band, I do hope the not so packed club shows don’t put them off coming back for more. Until they return, I still wear my Junkyard t-shirt with pride.