Following on from Miss Behaviour came Serpentine; the only British band there. Talk about the Eurovision song contest, I felt like Terry Wogan! Regardless, as they walked on stage the crowd were rounded up ready for round two.
First things first, the lead vocals of Matt Black were absolutely cracking! Damn that guy can sing! As they kicked off with A Touch of Heaven the song was going well, until the mic kicked the bucket. There was a sudden addition to the band…. the roadie trying to fix it. Nevertheless, the band obviously knew the meaning of ‘the show must go on’; there were certainly no distracting them!
Mic fixed, back on track, they knocked out the tune of the set; and I mean the tune of the set! Philadelphia was a fair spine chiller. That’s when the atmosphere began to heat up so did the audience. The catchy, grin bringing guitar riffs from Chris Gould were smashing. He spent most of the time with his eyes closed so it’s pretty safe to say he was ‘in the zone’ too.
If there was ever a tonsil flashing song it is In My Blood. With a mesh of Chris Gould’s guitar and Matt Black’s vocals, we got one hell of a song. Some of the audience were still a little mummified but the band certainly weren’t. The chemistry between them was corking!
All in all, they rounded off a good performance. The set was short but sweet and musically they pulled it off. For a second course they were good. Musically they were bang on. The audience did seem to be still finding their feet in some songs but the cheer they got at the end was convincing enough to say ‘good job lads see you next time’!
The second Swedish band of the night was the notorious Crashdiet. They were the third band on and the floor was flooded with masses of black spikey hair, Crashdiet shirts, blood, sweat and beers. The atmosphere was hotter than hell. The audience was not under lock and key anymore and were ready to inject some full blown action into the night.
Firstly, I had the feeling I was going to get crushed. Unfortunately, as soon as the band appeared, that feeling was right. They entered with a feverish performance of Breaking the Chains. They should have re-named it to breaking the barriers! But hey, no one was complaining. The audience was bursting into mass mania as Martin Sweet ran the stage ragged with his ravishing guitar solos. I think it was safe to say, we had been woken up.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out what happened when they played Riot in Everyone. Yes, the title couldn’t be more appropriate. With the raw vocals of Simon Cruz snarling down the mic, the ravishing riffs of Sweet, the steaming bass of Peter London and the brutal drumming of Eric Young, the crowd was erratic. The vocals were fantastic the guitar frets were faultless; it was a quiet ‘yes’ moment as the veins of the stage were pumping with electricity.
During the hit Native Nature Cruz went through two microphone stands. The first one he purposely trashed. One minute he was on his knees then a few seconds later he was back up and thirsty for more. Yes, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. In this case, that rule did not apply.
Still musically bang on, out came Feel Good Chemical. The band still had fireworks in their trousers and Cruz left the stage, wandered into the audience and had them singing down the mic. That’s about as personal as you get, (without getting dragged off by the bouncers). They were letting off more steam than a copper kettle!
To put a lid on the set, what else could we have but Generation Wild. Hell yeah what a closure. It was blood boiling. The stage was left charcoal. It suited the stage set up of two smoking garbage cans with a backdrop of a black and white brick wall.
What can I say but band of the night! Yes Crashdiet weren’t the headliners but they damn well could have been. They were like a bunch of wild animals who’d just escaped from a sleaze rock circus in Sweden! Why they called an album Rest In Sleaze baffles me, they just didn’t seem to rest at all!
Next up we had the headliners Houston. The floor was still packed ready for the fourth and final course of the night. So as the light dimmed, one by one the band members marched on stage…… along to a Rocky theme tune. Jogging on after was vocalist Hank Erix… wearing a boxing robe. The audience were contagiously lapping it up and gave the Swedish rockers a spirited welcome.
The opening song One Chance sure seemed to be a hit with the crowd. Yes as you can imagine the audience was roaring out the chorus along with Erix. It was a ‘nudge nudge, go on, you know you want to sing along’ moments. Of course, there was hands waving though the air as necessary The vocals were top notch, the entertainment was top notch and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much denim, leather and jewellery on one stage in my life. Oh and don’t forget the sweat bands!
One thing I have to hand to this band is their switchblade knife solos are just beautiful. We had a ‘guitar off’ on the third round of the set and it was a case of ‘play that bit again’; apart from nearly deafening us with the reverb at one point. Of course, we had to have a keyboard ‘play off’. The first one was heavier but the second was more looming and hollow. It gave the set variety. Fortunately this lead straight into what else but Hold On. As much as the song was good, the vocals were drowned. Mind you, that could have been down to the audience singing along.
The song of the set would probably have to be Chasing the Dream. The no nonsense song had the floor filled. Anyone who knew the song would know it’s not a mosh pit song; but there were no skeletons in the crowd with this number.
The stage set up was pretty domestic. A simple Houston backdrop was hung on the wall, the band was doing all the work not the stage.
All in all it was a good set. As they lined up at the end they underlined the night well. The audience were loving it and so was the band. They are still headlining material but I have to be critical and say they could have had a little more sting in their tail. Yes it’s true they are not a ‘firefly from hell’ band or a bunch of anarchy driven monkeys, it’s not their style, but sometimes they seemed a little frigid. Saying that the audience swallowed them whole so there’s no doubt England will have a place for Houston.
by Kathryn Longbottom