Home Gigs Gig Review:THE SWEET / BEXHILL DE LA WARR PAVILLION

Gig Review:THE SWEET / BEXHILL DE LA WARR PAVILLION

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Rounding of a highly enjoyable year of live concerts it was with much excitement that I was offered the chance to see my final show of 2019 and witness a band that I grew up with and had a huge influence on my love of all things rock and metal.

Having seen THE SWEET live on a few occasions it was my first opportunity to see the new line up consisting of founder member, ANDY SCOTT, Guitar, joined by LEE SMALL, BASS Guitar, PAUL MANZI, Vocals, STEVE MANN, Keyboards / Guitar and BRUCE BRISLAND on drums

With the venue filling at a rapid rate it was over to highly energetic support act NOVATINES to get the gathered audience warmed up, and with vocalist / guitarist Jamie Beale belting out the songs in raucous style, it didn’t take long before these young lads started to win the crowd over with their short sharp snappy rock songs.

With radio play from BBC radio 2 as well as Planet Rock Radio the group seem to be heading in the right direction with their enthusiasm and a crop of top tunes that went down really well on the south coast. I can understand why Classic Rock Magazine have given them space in their publication to promote this classy outfit.

On to the main act of the evening and Bexhill is certainly ready to party with some punters dressed up in their glitzy satin 1970s glam attire with fantastic wigs thrown in for good measure.

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Andy Scott main man and founder member although now 70 years of age is full of his youthful humour with an arsenal of heavy riffs and classic songs to choose from, this show was only going to go in one direction and that was a party to end all parties

. Opening song ‘Action’ is the perfect way to kick start the set and my first chance to see and hear new vocalist Paul Manzi who looks and sounds nothing like original vocalist Brian Connolly which is a master stroke from Andy Scott as it gives the group a fresh approach without losing that classic sound.

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‘New York Groove’ with that stomping, clap along beat is huge and the perfect appetiser for the crowd to get involved and join in. Having seen the band with previous incarnations I have never seen the camaraderie that is on stage tonight with smiles aplenty and hugs between band members.

‘Hellraiser’ has lost none of its charm and character although played a zillion times by Scott on many stages around the world. He slices the main riff as if it’s his first time. The guitar sound that the man produces is so heavy that many people present tonight are taken aback by how heavy SWEET 2019 really are.

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Bexhill although a fantastic venue is sadly all seater which really is the daftest idea when it comes to a concert with a band like this, and with half a dozen people trying to get up and have a boogie it was up to security to get them back in their seats, with Andy Scott well aware of what was going on in front of him , the band ploughed through ‘The Sixteens’ and ‘Turn It Down’ before Scott took to the microphone and said “ this is a party so everyone get up and fuck em !!” it was like the coming of the messiah with everyone just rising up as one and shaking their arse’s to the likes of ‘Teenage Rampage’, ‘Wig Wam Bam’ and the still highly amusing ‘Little Willy’ the sight of everyone just standing up and security helpless was something I won’t forget in a hurry.

Honestly the people that run these venues surely must realise that getting people to remain seated at a SWEET show is like eating a fruit pastel without chewing….( impossible) now that the band had ramped up the feel good factor it was apparent to me that the groups secret weapon was Bass player Lee Small who replicated those harmony and trademark backing vocals.

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The Beatles created that style, Queen mastered that style but THE SWEET took it to another level and it was in abundance tonight.

The importance of this sound propelled them through the 70s and is still so relevant today it made the hairs on my arms almost stand up such was the attention to detail and Lee Small needs to take a bow and Andy Scott should feel blessed with his new band member.

‘Loves Like Oxygen’ is a serious moment in the set and breaks down into a cover of ‘Fanfair For The Common Man’ before returning back to the main track and is a showcase for the guitar talents on stage.

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How many artists are there on the planet that can dish up the final 3 songs including a 2 song encore of ‘Fox On The Run’, ‘Block Buster’ and ‘The Ballroom Blitz’ ? Very few is the answer with Steve Mann joining Andy Scott on more sublime dual guitar work while Paul Manzi is running stage left and stage right encouraging the audience to join in. I for one was having the time of my life smiling at Andy Scott because he was like a big kid and I get the impression all he wanted to do was get heavier and heavier with his riffs.

So with the crowd still chanting the famous request of “We Want Sweet” that was such a common sound of 40 + years ago that was screamed in every hall and every TV show that the band performed in.

The house lights went up and everyone including myself, left the venue into the howling, wet weather of the south coast feeling good about themselves after reliving the songs of their youth.

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If anyone asks me are the band still relevant then I will give them a short sharp answer of YES because with this new line up they can pull in some serious crowds.

With so many great shows that I have attended this year I will bite the bullet and say for me that was the most entertaining of the lot, talk about save the best until last.
Review by Steve Bruty

Photography by Laurence Harvey

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