YOU know that Christmas is just around the corner when you hear the soothing tones of Noddy Holder bellowing “IT’S CHRISTMAAAASSSSSSS!!!!” out of every radio and shopping centre across the country.

If truth be told, that gets earlier every year.

Slade have been perennial favourites on the live circuit for decades and with Merry Christmas Everybody celebrating it’s 45th anniversary this year, it was time to don the top hats and glitter suits for a run of Christmas shows to mark this event.

Although only guitarist Dave Hill and drummer Don Powell remain with Noddy Holder and Jim Lea involved in a multitude of other projects, their replacements Mal McNulty and John Berry proved more than capable.

With a bagful of hits, Slade simply couldn’t fail kicking off with Gudbuy T’Jane, Take Me Bak ‘Ome and Look Wot You Dun causing palpitations for grammar students everywhere but sounding loud, proud and brash with Dave Hill ever the flamboyant showman and at 72 still possessing more energy and enthusiasm than men half his age.

Hill too, was eager to praise the impact of Geordie manager, Chas Chandler of The Animals fame, on the career of Slade and his respect and affection for Chandler was clear for everyone to see.

Everyday was a rare moment of reflection from Wolverhampton`s finest but the Highland Fling of Run Run Away soon built up a head of steam. In For A Penny and Far Far Away from the soundtrack to their legendary movie Slade In Flame and the fiddle fuelled My Friend Stan kept the hit quota on track.

With their football terrace, chant-a-long chorus’ Slade thrive on stage and it’s easy to see why they proved so influential on so many Rock bands including KISS, Cheap Trick and Quiet Riot over the years.

Mama Weer All Crazee Now and the foot stomping, hand-clapping Get Down Get With It were suitably boisterous while My Oh My had a multitude of arms waving in the air but it was left to the anthemic Cum On Feel The Noize and the ultimate Christmas party evergreen, Merry Christmas Everybody, complete with Santa hats, to send everyone home in the festive spirit.

Mick Burgess