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The short lived return. - 80%

hells_unicorn, December 31st, 2010

Ah yes, 1999, the year that Kurt Cobain twisted violently in his freshly dug grave as the 2nd coming of 80s heavy metal took the world by storm. And what better way than to remind the short lived icon of unkempt teenage girls and lawnmower men that his stupid little pop/rock albums amounted to nothing in the grand scheme of things than a rock solid performance out of the recently reformed NWOBHM icons Tygers Of Pan Tang. This would be the last time that Jess Cox and Robb Weir would light up the stage together, and perhaps for good reason given that Cox’s voice is showing some signs of age. But despite only have most of his former vocal range and the production on this being fairly distant sounding, the performance is air tight and rock solid.

We kick things off with a nice little intro taken from Richard Strauss’ “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” (aka the theme from “2001”) before kicking into a barrage of good time rocking glory. All the songs on here are taken either from “Wild Cat” or are covers, probably for good reason since Cox has a somewhat limited high range and probably can’t hit all the notes John Deverill belted out on “Spellbound”. “Euthanasia” and “Wild Catz” are the instant favorites given their riff happy, up tempo nature, and the crowd really gets into them. “Insanity” is also masterfully pulled off, galloping ahead like a runaway cowboy with John Wayne singing a tune while picking off savages with his rifle.

The absolute standout performance on here, however, is the ZZ Top cover, which is absolutely loaded with kickass guitar work and actually rocks a little bit harder than the original. Cox sort of fumbles around a bit with the high notes and doesn’t pull off the best performance, but Robb Weir and Glenn Howes really light up the stage on this one. There’s a talk box solo on here by one of the two (I’m not sure which but I’m guessing it’s Weir) that is heavily reminiscent of that wicked performance Mick Mars put to “Kickstart My Heart”, though I couldn’t make out any actual words being spoken through the guitar, just a lot of well placed notes and some sweet pentatonic shredding.

This is pretty high on the list of most essential purchases to make in this band’s discography, apart from the first 3 albums and the BBC concert that they did with Deverill back in 1981, which has a broader representation of both “Wild Cat” and “Spellbound”. It has a few bumps in the road on a couple of the songs like “Suzie Smiled” where Cox seems to be struggling a little bit, but anyone who liked the first two albums will go for this. It’s not quite fodder for the general public, but even a part time fan of this band in relation to the broader NWOBHM era should check into it.