Review: Dirt Box Disco, O2 Academy 2, Newcastle

Dirt Box Disco frontman Weab.I.Am at the O2 Academy 2 in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.
Dirt Box Disco frontman Weab.I.Am at the O2 Academy 2 in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Six albums in seven years give you some idea of the frantic pace at which Dirt Box Disco work.

And that prodigious workrate, and their heavy touring schedule, are the reason why the Midlands five-piece, who meld elements of punk, metal and glam rock, are one of the best emerging bands right now.

Dirt Box Disco at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Dirt Box Disco at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

I happened upon them around the time of their 2012 debut album, Legends, and, along with many others, fell immediately for their cheeky charms.

Yes, some of their lyrics are silly, and sometimes a bit rude, but I can guarantee that if you like your music loud and fast, they'll bring a smile to your face.

I've long tipped them as future headliners of Blackpool's annual Rebellion festival, where they've already filled the main hall twice.

That's because if you look beyond the pound shop fancy dress costumes and daft nom de plumes, you have a tight band who know their way round a singalong tune.

Dirt Box Disco singer Weab.I.Am at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Dirt Box Disco singer Weab.I.Am at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

You might even have unwittingly heard them; one of their songs, Freaks, from 2013 album Peoplemadeofpaper, was used in a Rimmel advert starring Kate Moss.

This show on Friday night was part of a UK tour to promote their latest album, Immortals, which is out now, and which might just be their best yet.

The band were on top form here, and the handful of new songs they played fitted seamlessly alongside established crowd favourites.

Only singer Weab.I.Am, his face painted like a sad clown, and dressed in a giant onesie, seemed a little subdued, and it was no surprise to find he missed subsequent gigs in Glasgow and Manchester on doctor's orders.

Dirt Box Disco at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Dirt Box Disco at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Larger-than-life masked guitarist ***** Volcano is the band's main songwriter and lyricist. He has a way with words and a catchy chorus, singing about real-life concerns such as getting drunk and falling for the girl you can't have.

Fellow six-stringer Danny Fingers, face painted blue and wearing a soldier's helmet, unleashes salvo upon salvo of meaty riffs, while bassman Deadbeatz Chris and drummer Maff Fazo lay down a rock-solid rhythm.

They kicked off with Smackhead, a rarely-played track from the aforementioned Legends, whose songs still account for maybe a third of their live set.

Songs such as I Just Want To Be A Girl, I Don't Wanna Go Out With You, Let's Get Wasted and Dirtbox Days helped them build a loyal following, and they'd be fools to drop them.

LoGoz singer Peesh in action at the O2 Academy 2 in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

LoGoz singer Peesh in action at the O2 Academy 2 in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Behind the comedy superheroes image they're nobody's fools, and each song prompts a mass singalong from the audience, none bigger than My Life Is ****, one of the best stress relievers I've ever heard.

Their 75-minute set includes songs from across their back catalogue, with more recent gems such as Standing In A Queue and The Art of Conversation rubbing shoulders with classics like Burning and Tragic Roundabout from their first-ever release, the Are You Ready? EP.

Of the new material, Joyce's Voices, about a strange old lady - "she's 89 but looks about 63, she talks to people no-one else can see" - should attain immediate classic status.

Dirt Box Disco are enormous fun - remember that? - and I defy anyone who hasn't heard them before to go to one of their gigs and not head home sporting an ear-to-ear grin.

A mention too for the opening act, local lads LoGOz, a pop-punk trio who give you an idea what Green Day might sound like if they came from Ashington, rather than California.

Singer Peesh, fellow guitarist Paul and drummer Carlos played a well-received 40-minute set of self-styled 'schizofrantic punk rock melodica', including great new single Anti-Social Media and infectious set closer Mexicola, which is probably their best song.

LoGOz, from Ashington, opened for Dirt Box Disco at the O2 Academy 2. Pic: Gary Welford.

LoGOz, from Ashington, opened for Dirt Box Disco at the O2 Academy 2. Pic: Gary Welford.

Two bands playing original music with passion made for a great night out - certainly one I'd rather have had than listen to the Amy Winehouse tribute in the main room downstairs.