Blue Oyster Cult – Nottingham, Rock City – 28 June 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rowland   
Sunday, 09 July 2017 04:30

It wasn’t that long ago that UK fans of New York legends Blue Oyster Cult may have wondered whether they were ever going to see the band again, with the band noticeably absent from these shores for something like a seven year period. In the past couple of years though, the band have made up for that lost time, with several visits, whether it be festival appearances at HRH and Ramblin’ Man, or full concert appearances like last year’s excellent ‘Agents Of Fortune’ show.


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As a huge lifelong fan of the band, June 2017 has been a good month indeed for me, as I’ve managed to catch them live twice in the one month. Earlier in June, the band, celebrating their 45th anniversary this year, performed their 1972 debut album in its entirety at the Stone Free Festival in London. This was a BOC treat not to be missed, and only the second time the band had ever performed said album in its entirety (they performed the feat again in Manchester soon after). Although the likes of ‘Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll’ and ‘Then Came The Last Days Of May’ are often staples of a BOC set, it’s not too often you get the chance to see them do the likes of ‘I’m On The Lamb But I Ain’t No sheep’ or ‘Workshop of the Telescopes’!


June show number two sees me jumping on the train to Nottingham for what promised to be a very different set at the Rock City. When they open with ‘Transmaniacon MC’, it does cross my mind whether they’re going to do the whole of the first album again, but that proved not to be the case.


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One of the great things about BOC when they’re on tour is that they will change the set each night, and you can never really predict what you’re going to get, apart from the obvious few Cult classics like ‘Burnin’ For You’, ‘Godzilla’ and ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ that you can bank on, and indeed all feature tonight. In fact, thanks to the clear enthusiasm of Eric Bloom, you can’t even predict they’re going to stick to the agreed set on the night, and on more than one occasion tonight, he tinkers with the set in the middle of the gig, which to my absolute delight produces ‘Harvester Of Eyes’ from out of nowhere, a real highlight of the evening. The first album’s ‘Screams’ and ‘She’s As Beautiful As A Foot’ are also thrust back in the set on a whim.


Elsewhere, the mid-80’s more AOR flavoured style is represented by a sublime and most welcome ‘Shooting Shark’ and ‘Dancin’ In The Ruins’, whilst ‘The Golden Age Of Leather’ (with cans raised way up high), ‘Lips In The Hills’ and a superb ‘The Vigil’ all add a slice of late 70’s BOC into the mix. ‘True Confessions’, ‘Tattoo Vampire’ and of course set closer ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ all survive from the previous year’s ‘Agents Of Fortune’ shows, and ‘Before The Kiss, A Redcap’ ensures there’s still a hefty amount of first album stuff in the set, with Eric Bloom providing an insight into what that strange title actually means. It was a drug thing!


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Of course, with the back catalogue Blue Oyster Cult possess, there’s always going to be tunes you would love to hear but don’t get on the particular night you go, but me and my companion are totally knocked out to get an unexpected and wonderful ‘Dominance And Submission’ as the first encore, replacing ‘Cities On Flame’ as the sing along encore for one night only. Richie Castellano wraps things up with the lead vocal on final tune ‘Hot Rails To Hell’.


Eric Bloom, 73, and Buck Dharma, 70 this year, defy their years with the energy, passion and enthusiasm they clearly still possess for Blue Oyster Cult. The fact that they mix it up each night and don’t choose to trudge through the same set night after night on a tour illustrates that enthusiasm, and is a real bonus for fans. The other original members may have gone, but this line up is rock solid, with Richie Castellano in particular shining bright with essential contributions on keyboard, guitar and vocal. Between them they make a Blue Oyster Cult show a special event every night, and this was no exception. I certainly hope they’re back again soon, and seeing as the first album and ‘Agents Of Fortune’ have both been performed in full over the past year or so, how’s about ‘Secret Treaties’ or ‘Fire Of Unknown Origin’ getting the same treatment?


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