Concert Reviews

Little Caesar / The Black Hands / Hazel Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 10, 2018    
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Little Caesar / The Black Hands / Hazel - The Corporation, Sheffiled (UK) - 24 February 2018

My eagerness to listen to Steve Price on ARFM as he announced the bands for this year's Rockingham Festival meant that I missed the first band on this evening, Hazel (sorry lads). I was subsequently kept up to date with frequent text messages from my fellow Fireworks' contributor Dave Crompton.

This was my first time seeing Chesterfield four-piece The Black Hands who impressed with their Led Zeppelin meets The Black Crowes-style of heavy Blues Rock, particularly vocalist Daniel Riley (think Nathan James without the histrionics). Their performance was assisted by a reasonable sound for the small part of The Corporation (the one with elevated stage). 'That Ain't The Way' and 'Mexico' were solid songs, but the set closers were the real highlights; new single 'Experienced Blues' and the infectious, foot-tapping '45'. I cannot see this band being unsigned for too much longer.

The Black Hands Live

Little Caesar casually took to the stage and commenced their set fifteen minutes earlier than their scheduled start time. They started big with 'Drive It Home', 'Rock 'N' Roll State Of Mind' and 'Hard Times' from their phenomenal eponymous debut album from 1990, not that the small (approximately seventy fans) crowd needed any convincing of the band's pedigree. The sound was infinitely better than the last time I saw Little Caesar down The Corporation and Ron Young was in fine voice despite only recently recovering from a bout of bronchitis. He complained about "how fuckin' cold it was" but joked that they were just a bunch of Californian pussies.

Little Caesar Live 1

This band genuinely loves to be on stage and playing to an audience which they actually regard as friends. Young explained that the live experience is a "moment in time" which can never be replicated and the reason why "some of us will always make the effort to go out, despite the frequent discomfort brought on by a combination of old age and grotty venues with awful sound". Little Caesar have never lost the ability to write a good tune as was evident by new songs '21 Again' and 'Time Enough For That' from the soon to be released album 'Eight'.

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However, it was the songs from the seminal debut that got the greatest reaction. Other highlights were the self-biographical 'Hard Rock Hell' (sure to played at next month's HRH-AOR), 'Dirty Water' and 'Rum & Coke' where ex-Bang Tango guitarist Mark Tremalgia got to show off his chops, whilst hard-hitting drummer Tom Morris kept perfect time throughout. 'Real Rock Drive' saw guitarist Loren Molinare bounce from one side of the stage to the other, much like the lovechild of Angus Young and Wilko Johnson on acid!

I'm not averse to bands playing cover songs, however, I have two main rules: a) they've got to be as good if not better than the original, and/or b) they have to sound like they could have been written by the band themselves. Little Caesar ticked both boxes on all their covers, from Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Proud Mary' (part of the brilliant 'In Your Arms') to Aretha Franklin's 'Chain Of Fools' which closed the main set; the latter, in my opinion, was one of the best ever recorded cover versions.

Little Caesar Live 2

Due to the aforementioned early start there was time for an extended encore which started with the groovy 'Cajun Panther' followed by 'Nobody Said It Was Easy' by The Four Horsemen – a band Young had previously been in with bassist Pharoah Barrett. Rod Stewart's 'Every Picture Tells A Story' included the Rolling Stones' classic 'Happy' and brought this highly entertaining evening to a fitting climax.

I've said it before and I'll say it again – Little Caesar still remain, to me, the best Bar Band in the world!

Review and photos by Mark Donnelly

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