Sick Puppies, The Leadmill

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HOURS after Andy Murray crashed out of the final of the Australian Open these Sydney natives crashed into Sheffield on Sunday night, but left everyone there a winner.

It’s been a long time coming for the potent three-piece. Formed 14 years ago, they quit their homeland to follow the rock ‘n’ roll dream in LA. That spirit is embodied in huge new single Maybe, already a US hit.

Now three albums in, Europe has been a little slower to catch onto their wares, a big, energetic roar of grunge-lined guitars with a pop edge that defies their limited manpower.

At times they bludgeon with riffs more befitting Rage Against The Machine, a style point hammered home by a snippet of Killing In The Name mid-set - just after their banned and brilliant ransacking of Destiny’s Child hit Say My Name.

This isn’t a band that needs to hide behind covers, however. In the likes of Going Down, here delivered as a brutal closer, and their début UK single All The Same, they have the sonic firepower to flatten a crowd a hundred times larger than this modest turn-out and in Shimon Moore a frontman with the gusto and people skills to rouse a graveyard into a security-scaring bounce-off.

Pretty pint-sized bassist Emma Anzai is anything but window-dressing; combined with drummer Mark Goodwin she forms a wrecking ball rhythm section that makes the floor vibrant as it drives the Puppies’ contagious mix of melody and aggression.

This intimate huddle was surely a taste of bigger things to come, as summer festival marquees will surely confirm. These puppies are actually fighting fit. And they bite, hard.

David Dunn