Adrenaline Mob + Voodoo Six @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Sunday 1st July 2012


Review by Peter Keevil / Photos by Rich Ward

There aren’t many bands that embrace the ‘supergroup’ tag, but these guys don’t f**k about with BS and tell it like it is. Adrenalin Mob are a super-gang ready to rut, prowling the dark streets happy to bitch-slap you into your place for daring to sneak a glance at their shadows.

The Adrenalin Mob rode into town and were keen on recruiting new blood. Would Birmingham be prepared to wear their colours?

Well apparently not, its a Sunday and the weather wasn’t been too bad and there’s a Euro footie final on the box; resulting in barely 100 punters on the floor of the O2 Academy 2. The smaller venue of Academy 3 would have suited the gig better were it not for the oversized drum kit brandished by one Mike Portnoy! It dominated the stage as if it was the star of the show and until the humans arrived – it was!

I’ve recently been playing AM’s album on loop at the office. Its a beast of an record, all machismo and testosterone, overlaid with a soupcon of ferocity whilst bringing to bear the technical excellence of each band member. So I was more than happy to forgo the sporting technical delights of the Spaniards for that of this bunch of reprobates over from the West Coast.

As if not to be out done, the UK threw in one of their own up-and-coming gangs as willing openers, that of London’s Voodoo Six.

V6 rarely disappoint and despite a pint size crowd the energy on stage and off was big and bountiful. With bassist, Tony Newton, on Maiden sound desk tour duty, it fell to Matt, Chris and Luke to get front of stage and work the crowd. In fact it was good to see Matt stepping forward as he usually has to give ground to the effervescent Newton.

All the great and the good were aired… Like Others Did; Take Aim; Falling Knives, Take The Blame and newbie, Stop – each like old friends saying a welcome “Good to see you” into my ears.

However, despite the pleasure to seeing these guys again I do want to see them change it up a bit. I want to see them acting like they are headliners, here to own the night. Yes, singer Luke was wearing a black shirt instead of his customary white but beyond his fine sounding throat he is in danger in pushing dear old Ozzy for the Olympic Gold in hand-clapping. Harsh? Perhaps but they have a great foundation; quality songs and appear to live and breathe for that 40minute live slot each night. So now the stars are aligned it’s the time to go play in the deep end. Make it so boys.

Good ol’ Johnny Cash drawled a lament from the speakers, Gods gonna cut you down, only to be sliced and slashed by the screaming feedback from the fretboard wizard that is, Mike Orlando. Adrenaline Mob are all chest thumping, horn throwing, an explosion of energy and charisma. Its like the musical form of WWE is in town. Chiseled jaws and barrels chests, they came to ROCK!!

Drummer, Portnoy, may have spent years with prog rockers, Dream Theater, but he also loves to play it big, loud and dirty. He even had a spit towel draped over some amp several feet away that he plastered with sputum with unerring accuracy.

Frontman, Russell Allen, often simply barked his lyrics, none more so than on the colossal ‘Freight Train’ but in the next moment opened his lungs to release sheer hard rock vocal delight, not unlike the late great Ronnie James Dio.

References to Dio were not over when Portnoy likened the crowd to him – small but powerful and indeed, the punters seemed determined to gang-together to ensure numerical value did not equate to levels of volume.

The contrast to Voodoo Six was revealing. V6 epitomised English reserve in stark contrast to the US Mob’s bombastic over-stated theatrics. Every string-bent note was accompanied by a facial contortion. Every member of the band made eye contact with the crowd, threw horns and gave that fist/heart salute. Yeah, it was a bit cheesy but it was delivered with such sincerity that only the Yanks seem to get away with (just).

More DIO reverence was delivered with the awesome, Mob Rules and as if they didn’t know that was actually a Sabbath song and not just a DIO song, they dedicated War Pigs to the birthplace of Metal, Birmingham – with much of the signing undertaken by a still vociferous crowd.

Adrenaline Mob feel like a band trying to find their feet – trying to balance blatant animalistic brute force (Feelin’ Me) with compassion and melody that my mate Woody would get off on (Angel Sky). And that journey of self-discovery is more than fine by me. These are a bunch of guys that have found common ground in each other but individually have still much to bring to the feasting table. I can’t wait to dine on the next course and next time I’ll save you a seat.

Set list:

Feelin’ Me
Down to the Floor
Angel Sky
Freight Train
Come Undone (Duran Duran cover)
Believe Me
All on the Line
Hit the Wall

Guitar Solo Into
The Mob Rules
War Pigs

 Click below for more photos from the gig:


  1. Truly awesome performances from both bands. The Mob were outstanding. Hope they return very very soon!!!

  2. Man, these guys were fucking amazing at Graspop….even for an early afternoon slot they ripped into the set at full force. Allen was a power house, a full tour would be worth a trip!

  3. Great review PK! I really need to get round to checking these guys out….

    Allen’s one hell of a vocalist!


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