Tailgunner / A Revelation of British Heavy Metal

Tasked with opening the evening for KK’s Priest and Paul Di’Anno in front of a highly expectant gathering of early arrivals were exciting multinational prospects Tailgunner. Make no mistake, Tailgunner were a revelation, delivering a crisp and enthused approach to the traditional.

Tailgunner

KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – 6 July 2023

Words: Sophie James

Photography: John Inglis

I had barely arrived and halted at a respectable viewing point before the intro tape of Zorba The Greek began rolling. 

Catapulting out of the traps with the galloping rhythms of Guns for Hire reminded me of the equally impactful launch of Aces High. The twin guitar harmonies did nothing to dissuade otherwise, not that it could ever be considered a bad thing. One wonders just how thunderous Sam would be if they ever let him loose on a Double Bass Drum set-up.

Tailgunner - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton - 6 July 2023
Tailgunner – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – 6 July 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

“So pray to your God and draw your last breath. When you hit the ground, you’ll know the White Death.” White Death further reaffirmed those influences. Imagine if Bruce had recorded the Killers album. Ferocious but melodic, hugely infectious and silly grin-inducing.

Beast In The Night was a Randy cover (now stop that!), but to many debutant observers, such was the interpretation and execution that one could consider to be their own. Lyrically, Warhead invoked memories of Manowar but thankfully without resurrecting images of loincloths, straight to the point with no messing about.

Tailgunner - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton - 6 July 2023
Tailgunner – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – 6 July 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

A ‘tune’ I always thought deserved serious ramping up in a thoroughly neo-classical Metal style was Grieg’s In the Hall Of The Mountain King.  

ELO went part of the way there 50 Years ago (Gulp!), but I always thought that there was so much more ‘potential’ in the number.

Well, by Jovi, this evening, we jolly well got it, all the more joyous and raucous as the rhythms accelerated and the harmony guitars were once more lavished over the top. One could just imagine knocking back another shot of voddie at the end of each musical line. “Hey!!!” 

“Helvete Ja!” as they may say in those parts.

Crashdive illustrated the influences and core rhythms upon which Metallica based their whole career. The way the music ebbs and flows is so evocative of the subject’s lethal activities in dark, icy waters.

Tailgunner - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton - 6 July 2023
Tailgunner – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – 6 July 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

“We are Tailgunner, and we are here to put British Heavy Metal back on the map. Help us sing this one – you know the words.”

To close, they performed a note-perfect version of Dio’s Don’t Talk to Strangers. So good, it sounded and felt just like the original. The clarity in the delicate intro was just sublime, while within the main body, Thomas’ Bass was pulverising.

This was a band that didn’t hang about. Dispensing with the long introductions and inter-song ‘chat’, they extracted every last second out of their limited timeslot delivering 30 Minutes of foot to the floor, pure unashamed Heavy Metal that transported you back to those halcyon days of NWOBHM.  

Call it the New Wave of New Wave of British Heavy Metal if you like. 

Tailgunner - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton - 6 July 2023
Tailgunner – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – 6 July 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

To simplistically identify the core elements, if one fused the attack of early Maiden and their guitar harmonies with the quasi-classical influences of European Metallers like Accept, throw in the choreography of Priest, then infuse it with an inexhaustible supply of youthful enthusiasm, then that will give you a taster for what Tailgunner is all about.  

With regard to the latter, they never failed to take an opportunity to gather and ‘adopt the position’ at the front of this evening’s extended stage. A resplendent exemplification of why we acquiesced to the majesty of Metal all those years ago. 

With their debut album now available, these are ones to follow and we eagerly anticipate what the future may hold. A full show will be paradoxically contemporary, and nostalgic but an exhilarating experience nonetheless.

You can read the Paul Di’Anno report here.

You can read the KK’s Priest report here.

Tailgunner are:

Vocals – Craig Cairns

Guitar – Rhea Thompson

Guitar – Zach Salvini

Bass – Thomas Hewson

Drums – Sam Caldwell 

Sleeve Notes

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