A really good review of this band that proves that they were more than just a bubblegum hit band. Comparisons with Purple and Sabbath too – that`s really something!
Hope you like it.
Hot and nasty under the lights
Pete Makowski reports from Blackpool
Sweet want to be nasty, musically speaking of course. “The next album we make is going to be nasty, it`s going to be vicious”, said the band`s guitarist Andy Scott. This was after their gig at the Blackpool Winter Gardens last Wednesday. It was their first gig in eight months and it marks a new era in the band`s career, their transition from being just a teeny booper band to group with a little more to offer.
This was the first time I saw Sweet and it was a shame that the audience weren`t really a good representation of the band`s hard core fans… come to think of it, it was rather an odd night. The Winter Gardens ballroom is only a part of a huge building that contains many bars and a larger hall (holding three and a half thousand) where Val Doonican has been selling out every night of his Summer season.
It wasn`t obvious that the band were playing at the venue as there was only one small, inconspicuous poster advertising the affair. This could have accounted for the lack of audience, the event was no sellout. The ages of the audience varied from parents who had taken their kids (of whom some were a ridicously young age) to the 18 and 20 year olds who were there to hear the heavier elements of the band.
It`s amazing to see what kind of age group bands of this stature attract, considering the bands don`t come on until about 10 p.m. Apparently one night, the parents of the children came along to complain that their kids were being kept up too late (it was either Mud or Peters And Lee).
The stage was already set up, with a cinema screen at the back, a gong in front of it, and the whole affair was surrounded by a lavish looking light show.
An obvious Butlin reject redcoat came on to the stage saying things like `hello boys and girls, how are you kiddies` and even the youngest of the audience ignored him. He made his announcement and it was only when the lights went down that it became apparent the band were about to come on.
But before the arrival of the group, the cinema screen heralded the announcement “And now the moment you`ve been waiting for” then the `Stripper` theme blared out of the system and a rather busty young lady was jiggling her wares over the screen. There was a countdown and each number twisted round into some sort of sexual symbol, excellent bit of cartoonery.
As soon as the film finished Andy Scott was on the stage knocking out the chords to “Hellraiser”, Steve Priest appeared from the other side to accompany him on bass and Mick Tucker darted up the back to his huge double kit. Last but not least Mister Connelly appeared to the female`s whimpering delight.
Two flashing explosions from either side of the stage, gave the number the raucous atmosphere it needs. Yes, when it comes to showmanship Sweet come third to Alice Cooper and Cecille B. De Mille in extravagance.
Due to the acoustics and lack of audience the sound of the band was rather echoey, although the power of the music still managed to pierce the eardrums. The audience were definitely into this number, and one young kid was avidly clapping his hands together in metronomic style and he kept this up throughout the set, same beat. A severe case of the Gary Glitters I fear.
The next section of the set was dedicated to the band`s album “Sweet F.A.” and revealed a completely new side of the band. When it comes to rock, the band are professional in their performance, skilful in their musicianship and have some extremely good material to boot. The songs are pacey and dynamic, comparable to the songs Purple were playing in their “In Rock” days. I always found one of the magic ingredients of the band, singlewise, was the tough, solid combination of Priest and Tucker, this enhanced itself on their heavier material. Connelly`s vocals were good, but still a bit shaky. Andy and Steve harmonised with him giving strength to the output.
Andy Scott featured some tasteful soloing, especially in the second number, where he doubled his guitar with a tape recording, all very precise stuff. On the album`s title track Scott played both synthesizer and Fender Stratocaster guitar which he almost demolished at the end of the song.
“I was mad,” he said afterwards “did you hear the sound the guitar was making? I was going to smash it against the speaker, but I threw it at a roadie instead.”
One of the highlights of the night, was Tucker`s drum solo, which began with “The Man With The Golden Gun”, the stage was empty, until Tucker appeared from one side, spinning a stick in his hand. He walked up to the kit and went into one of the most explosive drum solos I`ve heard for ages. If this wasn`t enough, suddenly a film of Tucker with his kit appeared on the screen, and the real Tucker accompanied it on tympanis. Then Tucker went back to his kit and had a drum duel with the film, which was one of the most synchronised and effective bits of showmanship I`ve seen.
The end of the solo led into “Ballroom Blitz” and it was only then that the audience gave an indication of life. It seemed as if they had been stunned silent by the heavy metal material and it took that bip boppin` beat to resuscitate them.
The last quarter of the set was the obvious high spot for the crowd. A rock and roll medley was followed by an extended version of “Blockbuster” featuring the “FBI” theme with an atmospheric clip of film accompanying it.
But this was not the end of the set, oh no, the opening screams of “Teenage Rampage” and the band reappeared to take over from where the record left off. I forgot to mention that they also played their new and most acclaimed single, “The Sixties”.
At the end of the set everyone walked away peacefully, and it was clear that the whole event was a bit subdued and lacked any of that fan hysteria. I found the set very entertaining although there are a lot of sections that need ironing out and tightening up, especially an acoustic piece which was totally out of contrast with the rest of the set (also the harmonies were well out of tune).
The band have proven how competent they are, and after a good solid tour they should do well here as long as the audience are ready to accept the transformation.
Anyone who likes Purple and Sabbath will either immensely enjoy the band or accuse them of being rip offs. I`m not going to commit myself until they`ve recorded their next album and I`ve seen them after they`ve toured a lot, but even now they show strong indications of being a bloody good rock and roll band.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rod Stewart, Jim Capaldi, Ray Davies, Lowell George, Grand Funk, Bruce Springsteen, H. B. Barnum, Mike Flood Page, Denny Laine, Roy Orbison, Rufus Thomas, Badfinger, Strider, The Neutrons.
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