Fireworks

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H.E.A.T. / Supercharger http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/9e/7f/e8/heat-manchester-thumb-65-1401221531.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 27, 2014    
 
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H.E.A.T. / Supercharger - Academy 3, Manchester (UK) - 19th May 2014

Ironically, it's the hottest weekend of the year so far in the U.K. when Swedish superstars H.e.a.t arrive for a four date trek to bring to a close their European tour; the packed out Academy 3 is like a sauna.

Support throughout the tour has come from Denmark's Supercharger, not a band I was familiar with before tonight. To be honest, the first two songs in the set did absolutely nothing for me, both up-tempo with a snot-nosed Punk attitude and with very little to tell them apart due to their unfamiliarity, I got the impression that much of the crowd felt the same way due to the less-than-rapturous applause that followed them. I began to think that the next forty minutes were really going to drag. However, once they slowed things down a little and added more melody and the Boogie-Woogie piano became more audible, everybody seemed to warm to them. Vocalist Mikkel Neperus has a gruff yet booming delivery, which led me to think Supercharger sounded like a more melodic The Almighty; the singer certainly knew how to handle a crowd too, constantly chatting between the songs. He revealed that he found out that day that somebody in the crowd has had the name of their latest album 'Broken Hearts And Fallaparts' tattooed on their chest, and also recalled how he grew up listening to Iron Maiden and how amazing it was that former Paul Di'Anno guitarist Staffan Österlind is now in his band.

As he was revealing the story behind the song 'Hungover In Hamburg', the stage was invaded by the guys from H.e.a.t armed with drinks for everybody, the first indication that as this is the very last night of the tour, there would be some partying going on – needless to say, the gesture was to be reciprocated during the headliners set! They finally got round to performing '...Hamburg', a song with a Bluegrass influence but with a stomping groove, at which point the crowd were now completely on-side, no doubt helped by the fact that it was the strongest song of the set so far. 'Five Hours Of Nothing' and 'Blood Red Lips' were other standouts, then Neperus instigated a sing-along to the simple but catchy 'Hell Motel' to close the set. Indifferent to begin with, but Supercharger left the stage like conquering heroes to a huge cheer.

As usual, Glenn Frey's 'The Heat Is On' boomed through the P.A. to herald the arrival of H.e.a.t on stage, then they launched into newie 'Point Of No Return'. These guys are fast becoming one of the best bands on the scene and certainly know how to put on a highly entertaining, energetic show. New album 'Tearing Down The Walls' has been out for barely a month, yet every song was greeted like an old friend. Surprisingly, it was excellent first single 'A Shot At Redemption' that is aired as early as second song in the set, the willing crowd joined in with the gang-style vocals of the chorus.


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In Erik Grönwall, H.e.a.t have found an amazing front-man. Certainly unique, with endless energy that manifests itself in his unusual stage moves and with a hairstyle that can only be described as odd. He also has a stunning set of pipes – admittedly, when he indulges in some of his more extreme stage antics his vocals can suffer a little, yet his charisma carries him through. His confidence has also spread throughout the rest of the band – no disrespect to his predecessor Kenny Leckremo, but back in the early days I thought that the songs were great and the singer had an excellent voice, but they seemed to just go through the motions on stage with very little interaction with the audience. These days though, they have a much bigger and better stage presence and their personalities shine through. Bassist Jimmy Jay and Jona Tee deserve special mention for supplying the stunning backing vocals, while drummer Crash is the life and soul of the party, even while stuck behind his kit. It's also amazing to think that H.e.a.t have slimmed down to one guitarist yet actually toughened up their sound, and Eric Rivers has taken on the role of sole guitarist in stunning fashion.

The set was mostly culled from the Grönwall-fronted albums. When they did occasionally head back to the earlier albums they tended to go for the harder or more groove-orientated songs like 'Late Nite Lady', 'Beg Beg Beg' (which tonight included a snippet of Led Zeppelin's 'Rock And Roll') and 'Danger Road'. I don't think we'll ever hear the likes of 'There For You', 'Keep On Dreaming' or 'Never Let Go' in a live setting again, as the Pop/Rock style of the songs just wouldn't sit comfortably with the more mature approach of the newer material. The solitary song of the set that truly reflects the old style was the excellent '1000 Miles' – how the hell this song was never selected as a Swedish entrant to the Eurovision Song Contest is beyond me (then again, as this show comes just a week after said contest was won by a bearded transvestite from Austria, maybe that's not a bad thing after all!) 'Better Off Alone' and 'It's All About Tonight' from the 'Address The Nation' album sandwiched the oldie.

Grönwall strapped on an acoustic guitar for the stunning ballad 'Tearing Down The Walls', the uplifting chorus swept around the room as everybody joined in. It's another song that I personally feel would be better later on in the set due to the spirit of togetherness that embodies the lyrics. It was followed by new single 'Mannequin Show', and I really don't care if the chord progression is similar to anything by the Bee Gees or Britney Spears, this is one hell of a cracking song that was a definite set highlight. 'In And Out Of Love' and the quite wonderful 'Downtown' offered a little respite from the harder edged numbers, it was prior to the latter that the Supercharger guys appeared with their round of drinks. Then it was back to the latest album for 'Enemy In Me', 'Eye For An Eye' and 'Emergency' to close the set – my only complaint of the night was that the outstanding 'Laughing At Tomorrow' has not been included, as I think the chorus would have sounded absolutely amazing with a huge crowd sing-along.


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They were off-stage for barely a minute before they returned for the dynamic 'Breaking The Silence', before Grönwall revealed that as this was the last night of the tour they wanted to do something special, and Supercharger returned once again – eleven people on the Academy stage was definitely a squeeze! As both bands are Roxette fans ("it's a Swedish thing!" explained Grönwall), they somehow lurched through a version of 'The Look', with Neperus taking on Per Gessle's parts and Grönwall delivering Marie Fredriksson's parts. Grönwall definitely appeared the most comfortable and changed the second verse to a chant thanking everybody for coming out to Manchester to see both bands. It's a little messy and many lyrics are forgotten, but it was great fun and everybody sang along to the "na na na na na" bits with gusto. The Danes departed and left H.e.a.t to wrap the evening up with the fantastic 'Living On The Run'.

It was touch and go whether I actually managed to see H.e.a.t on this tour as there were no shows around the Midlands close to where I live, but I'm so glad I decided to make the two and a half hour drive to Manchester, as this was an absolutely amazing performance. Roll on Firefest!

Ant Heeks


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(Photos by Stuart Westwood)

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