Sweet and Slade – The Opera House, Manchester 11th November 2012

For some people the music of the early 70s will be forever glam. Some of it bubble-gum, some of it now remembered for other, ahem, “Glitter-y” reasons and others now classics. My earliest memories of music are sat watching Top of the Pops and thinking how amazing one of those bands looked and I still cannot get over the influence that one band had on my entire musical education. That band were Sweet – the reason I wanted to be in band, the reason I like the more poppier end of rock, the reason I like spandex and make-up…oh, er ….we’ll move swiftly on shall we?

Having seen this tour announced I had been as excited as a very excitable thing in the land of excited people. For some this version of Sweet will never be treated seriously but to me Andy Scott was the reason I picked up a guitar – it’s his fault that for almost 40 years I’ve never been too far from a number of guitars, his fault that I’ve mithered and badgered to be in bands and, do you know what? I wouldn’t change a second of it.

The current line-up deliver a greatest hits set that is clearly designed to please every member of the audience. From the first note we were transported back to the heyday of the band. Yet never does the band sound like a tribute act. Pete Lincoln’s voice and style is reminiscent of the late Brian Connolly but never does he impersonate. The whole band generate such a fun-filled atmosphere (spoilt a little by the all seated, classic theatre, with circle and stalls, layout) that this couldn’t be anything other than a Sweet show that is true to the memories we all held. I had a big grin on my face from the first second of the show and was still grinning four days later.

There was room in the set for a couple of tracks from their latest release “New York Connection” (see the Rock-Zone UK review of the CD at https://www.rock-zone.co.uk/2012/07/20/the-sweet-new-york-connection/) including a great re-working of “You Spin Me Round”. Throughout the sense I got was of that knowing wink and a smile nature that was a trademark of the band from the early days. Sweet were always a great rock band (just get a hold of “Sweet Fanny Adams” if you don’t believe me) and this is still clear now. Tony O’Hora brings a touch of more modern hard rock with his backing vocals and second guitar and Bruce Bisland hits that kit with a power that proves that Sweet were and are a rock band that are worthy of the influence they have had on the music we love – without Sweet there would be no Kiss, Crue or Leppard. If the bubble-gum pop  of the likes of “Coco”, “Funny, Funny” and “Little Willy” doesn’t make you grin then you probably need resuscitating …. And you still can’t push Willy where Willy won’t go you know!

Slade now include only Dave Hill and Don Powell from the original line-up but it is clear that the fans tonight hold them both very close to their hearts. Dave still does his “Super Yob” routine which goes down well with the Slade supporters (and still kind of winds me up a bit – such a great guitarist doesn’t need all that shtick), Don hits the drums as hard as he does in that performance on Saturday Night Live and the others? They work well with Don and Dave to produce a set that gets the crowd moving. My personal favourties were the 80s hits but I will always have a jingle bell sprinkled, be-tinselled place in my heart for “That Christmas Song”….and, yes, of course they played it – opening the door to the time machine and taking me back to those Christmases when I first wanted a guitar.

It’s still all Andy Scott and Sweet’s fault….and I wouldn’t change it! For anything!!

For more info see www.thesweet.com

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