Tucked away off the A467, mere minutes from the city of Newport, The Patriot – The Home of Rock, continues to be one of the hottest venues in South Wales for hard rock and Heavy Metal. Guided by the assured management of the in-house team, the venue’s strapline is “a warm welcome awaits all.” Tonight they hosted Tygers Of Pan Tang who recorded the show for a live release.
Tygers Of Pan Tang
The Patriot, Crumlin, Newport – 4 August 2023
Words and Photography: Paul Hutchings
As a venue, The Patriot is one that you embrace on every visit, from the smiling staff who pour you a beer into the venue’s own reusable cups to the punters who will happily chat with you. But the real proof is the bands. Bands that return over again.
Speak to the likes of Florence Black, Trucker Diablo, Blind River, Rushed, etc, and you’ll find that it’s The Patriot’s supportive approach that keeps them coming back.
Such is the case with tonight’s headliners. Whitely Bay may not be the epicentre of the UK Metal scene, but in 1978, the area spawned one of the best bands to emerge from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Their potential may never have been fully realised, despite some solid early albums and in 1987 the band folded.
Brought back to life in 1999 by sole original member Robb Weir, the Tygers have hit a rich vein of form in the past eight or so years. Their last few albums, the eponymously titled 2016 release, 2019’s The Ritual, and this year’s superb Bloodlines, have all shown that Weir has lost none of his writing prowess.
Alongside long-serving drummer Craig Ellis and Italian singer Jacopo Meille, the band’s current line-up which also features guitarist Francesco Marras and bassist Huw Holding is arguably the strongest the Tygers have ever had. It’s, therefore, no surprise that The Patriot is busy all evening, eager for the latest show.
It was only October 2022 when this lineup was last here, and a fair few of tonight’s audience were there too. The set is being recorded for a live release, and the energy on stage is replicated in the crowd. Fists are in the air, beers held aloft, and lyrics sung with a typically Welsh gusto.
The Tygers prowl the stage with a professional ease that impresses. I’ve seen them many times over the years, but this is purrfection [sorry]. There’s a vibrancy on stage, with smiles, and laughter, but most of all a quality that is infectious.
It’s high-quality Heavy Metal, full of thick crunchy riffs, sublime vocals and screaming guitar solos. Add Ellis’s thunderous drumming which provides a true anchor to proceedings, and you’ve got everything you need.
The set list is fantastic. A balance of newer songs from Bloodlines and The Ritual are mixed with anthems from Spellbound, Crazy Nights and Wild Cat. Gangland, Paris By Air and Euthanasia are embraced like the old friends they are, whilst the new stuff sounds awesome.
Fire On The Horizon is as heavy as the band has ever been, and it induces frenzied head-banging around the venue. Edge Of The World and A New Heartbeat demonstrate that the audience is familiar with the latest offerings, whilst Only The Brave wins anthem of the evening.
Meille is a fine frontman. He’s comfortable with the banter, doesn’t overdo it, but is able to tell the odd story. He introduces Holding as the new boy and easily sidesteps a Faux Pas when referring to being in England rather than Wales.
He’s soon corrected by Welshman Holding, who is seen sporting a fine Wales Football shirt circa 1977 out of his stage clothes. It’s a neat touch and facilitates plenty of warmth toward him.
With Ellis a powerhouse behind the kit, Weir, and Marras share lead shredding duties with aplomb. Marras is the more flamboyant of the pair, Weir often happy to hold down the rhythm. The founder member has always been extremely affable, and his broad smile is pleasing. The Tygers have plenty still to offer, and for all the hardships he’s experienced, he’s now clearly enjoying his role as much as he ever did.
The night flies by, and suddenly we’re at the final song of the evening. Love Potion No 9 isn’t even theirs, but they’ve owned it ever since they had minor success with it in 1982. It’s the band’s anthem, and it rightly rounds off a stunning evening.
Judging by the queue at the merch desk at the end of the evening, the crowd did too, and that live release should be another highlight in the career of a band that goes from strength to strength.