There was a time, albeit a brief period of time, many years ago, when it looked like the Supersuckers would make the big time and become bone fide rock stars. They played the main stage at Reading festival, got glowing reviews from the rock press, kicked ass and chewed gum… As frontman/bassist Eddie Spaghetti put it himself, they expected to be a “Van Halen sized juggernaut.” And they probably should have been.

It’s difficult to pinpoint when the spark started to fade. If memory serves, there was a major record deal that amounted to nothing, setting the band back instead of propelling them forwards through no fault of their own. And then the ass fell out of the record industry anyway. But it wasn’t that, it was more a slow realisation that they weren’t into it so much anymore, understandably tired of slogging around the same circuit year after year. Not that they weren’t still a great band, just a little less vital, a little less “the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world”.

Tonight, however, it’s a different story. Just eight months ago Eddie Spaghetti was diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer and this is the band’s first tour since he beat the disease, his love for performing clearly rekindled. Suddenly those dive bars don’t look so unappealing. Sure, the Supersuckers know they’ll probably never ‘make it’ in commercial terms, but just making it on tour is far more important. Suddenly this is fun again.

It’s to be expected that we get the ‘country’ set tonight, the ‘Suckers opening with Holding The Bag, the title track of their last album. It’s too soon to be blasting out The Evil Powers Of Rock ‘N’ Roll. That said, they never could resist cranking it up a bit, the likes of Doublewide, Creepy Jackalope Eye and the brilliant Pretty Fucked Up inevitably leaning towards the rock. It has also become clear that the band have such a vast back catalogue of ‘hits’ that you don’t really notice what’s missing until they’re done. Hell, they’d be up there for hours if they played them all!

But tonight isn’t so much about the setlist, it’s about once again seeing that spark, that shit-eating grin on Eddie’s face that makes it all worthwhile. The liquor’s long kicked in by the time we “fly the finger” for the ineluctable Born With A Tail, and there’ll be hell to pay tomorrow, but it’s a small price to see the Supersuckers back on form and re-energised. Cha-cha-cha indeed!

Having written for Kerrang! magazine since 1989, I started shooting for them, pretty much by accident, in the early 90’s when all their photographers refused to go on tour with my favourite punk band Poison Idea. With pretensions of being as good as Mark Leialoha and taller than Ross Halfin, I shot everyone from Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer and Slipknot to The Prodigy and was published all around the world (full-ish list in the ‘published in’ section) before stumbling into fetish and pin up photography in 2006 when I married Masuimi Max. I quit Kerrang! in 2008 and now shoot the rock stuff for Metal Hammer and Terrorizer.