H.E.A.T / Degreed / Black Diamonds (second review) Hot
Written by Central Electronic Brain     December 17, 2017    
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H.E.A.T / Degreed / Black Diamonds (second review) - The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (UK) - 19 November 2017

It could have been a risky move announcing a tour in November so late with so many tours already booked in the UK for the two months leading up to Christmas. Add to the fact that this was also a cold, Sunday night in Nottingham, however, by the time that opening band Black Diamonds hit the stage, the Rescue Rooms was fairly close to capacity. The Swiss band received a great reception and opened with aptly titled 'We Want To Party'. The guys were obviously having a great time, with this being only their second ever show in the UK, but in this very competitive market they will need to develop their song-writing skills. It wasn't that the songs they played – 'Judgement Day', 'I Will Be OK', 'Thrillride', 'Vampires Of The Night' and 'Hands Of Destiny' were bad, just not that memorable.

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Degreed walked onto stage to the backing tape of 'Hocus Pocus' by Dutch Prog band Focus and encouraged the crowd to sing-along before they even picked up their instruments for set opener 'Black Cat'. 'Sugar' quickly followed before the excellent cover of the Steve Perry classic 'Captured By The Moment'; what a song and Degreed pulled it off pretty well knowing that there is no way they can match Perry's sultry tones. However, bassist and singer Robin Ericsson has a melodic tone, although that was dispensed with for the Hard Rock of 'WAR!' but returned for the excellent ballad 'Tomorrow', the second of four songs in a row from their latest, self-titled, studio album – 'If Love Is A Game' and 'Shakedown' being the others. It was obvious that the majority in attendance were familiar with the Swedes back catalogue and gave them a rousing ovation following set closer 'The Scam', from 2015's 'Dead But Not Forgotten' album.

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Glen Frey's 'The Heat Is On' fittingly heralded the start of the main event. The band members came on individually, all taking rapturous applause of the expectant audience, with the biggest cheers reserved for the human jack-in-a-box, Erik Grönwall. Opening with 'Bastard Of Society', which I knew would be a perfect live set opener, H.e.a.t lit the blue touch paper for the next hour and three-quarters. The band have always been as tight as a drum but with Grönwall on board, they have that X-factor that so many bands just don't possess. 'Late Nite Lady' and 'Straight For Your Heart' followed from the debut album, which unbelievably will be celebrating its tenth anniversary next year!

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The pairing of 'Mannequin Show' and 'Redefined' was inspirational and highlighted both the depth and quality of the band's song-writing. The title track of the new album 'Into The Great Unknown', which has polarised opinions amongst fans, actually just reaffirmed my personal opinion that it is one of the albums of the year. The latter, almost Progressive number was juxtaposed to the Pop Rock of '1000 Miles'.

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Grönwall, who had already been down with the crowd at the front of stage, went body-surfing to the bar during 'Beg, Beg, Beg', then climbed up to the balcony and paid tribute to the late, great Malcolm Young. The band then played a fitting cover of the AC/DC classic 'Whole Lotta Rosie'. At this point (of no return) he came right next to me on the balcony and then in a comical act almost walked into the wall until he realised there was no exit!

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Despite his physical exertions, Grönwall returned to the stage, and put in an impressive vocal performance on the new songs 'We Rule' and 'Time On Our Side', the former being very Queen-like. The Queen influences continued with the brief drum solo by Crash played to a backing track of 'Flash'. Grönwall and Jona Tee, who sat at the back behind his keyboards and orchestrated the band, returned to the stage for a fantastic rendition of arguably the best song from the latest album, 'Eye Of The Storm'. The rest of the band then returned to the stage. Returning guitarist Dave Dalone appeared happy to let Grönwall take the spotlight and only occasionally ventured front and centre, Jimmy Jay on the other side of the stage provided the rhythm and excellent backing vocals, as did all the band members; it's a key to H.e.a.t's fantastic live shows. H.e.a.t then launched into 'Breaking The Silence' followed by surely their finest song 'Living On The Run' (their very own 'Livin' On A Prayer'); if the atmosphere was not already at fever pitch then this took it above and beyond. It brought back memories of their legendary Firefest performances and in particular the one at 'The Last Fling'. Grönwall actually name-checked the festival and said that Nottingham was the city he had the spent most time in outside of Stockholm.

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The smile on Grönwall's face throughout could have lit up Nottingham City centre; he, along with members of the band, went out of their way to make every single fan feel special. The band returned for a one-song encore that Grönwall said would be 'Run To The Hills', maybe as a reference to Jay's Iron Maiden t-shirt. They even started playing the intro to the Maiden classic before switching to their own 'A Shot Of Redemption' ('Point Of No Return' sadly had to be omitted due to the curfew). The band took the deserved ovation and took a photograph with the delirious crowd. What a way to spend a Sunday evening in November. I recently saw Y&T and Tyketto, both shows I would rate ten out of ten. On that basis, tonight, H.e.a.t were simply off the scale!

Mark Donnelly

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