Home Gigs Gig Review: H.E.A.T. ‘SIGN IN THE NORTHERN SKY’ TOUR 2022 – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton

Gig Review: H.E.A.T. ‘SIGN IN THE NORTHERN SKY’ TOUR 2022 – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton

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Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM

A quick call and I’m on my way to Wolverhampton and Tice’s place of growing repute, yes, it’s another night at KK’s Steel Mill. I’m under the weather for this one as yesterday I’d been to my GP as I’m still suffering the effects of a cold some 9 weeks after first sneezing.

With continued covid checks, two sometimes three a week, all returning a negative result, a more serious approach was needed. Wheezing like a rotten bag of air the GP prescribed another stronger course of Penicillin, the first two tablets to be taken together rocked me to the core. Feeling sick and unsteady.

I’m now on a tablet a day with 6 steroids, while I wait for my X-Ray which has been re-scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. The sneezing continues along with a hateful cough when it starts. I was due to shoot Martin Turners new drummer and cover the band this afternoon but with Martin being particular about illness and having already cancelled on him once because of it, I had no option but to do that yet again yesterday. Sorry Maria and Martin.

Tonight, instead of brother Waldorf, I have my good lady wife. She has come along to look after me and if need be, drive the tour bus home! Ha ha a great idea in principle but she’s now tucking into a can of Pink Gin as she settles down for the ride.

We arrive and park up, in the car park this time as there is already a queue forming and the spaces along-side the venue have long been taken. Whilst waiting in the queue I meet up with fellow tog, Scott, who I’ve not seen for a quite a while now so it’s great to have a catch up. There is never a problem getting into KK’s so we are quickly inside and away when the doors open.

I meet up with Valerie from Sony Italy. A friend off social media, she travels from Italy to the UK to catch as many of the Swedish/Scandi bands as her weekends allow her. The rock scene in Italy isn’t a patch on the UK’s, she has flown in specially to see her friends in H.E.A.T. the headliners tonight.

With a Vodka and Coke bought for the Mrs who has somehow managed to get a spot on the barrier, we’re sorted for the long wait until the first band. Doors were at 6:30 which we made and the first band Collateral aren’t on until 7:30

Collateral hit the stage on time. This band of merry men hailing from Kent are quickly up and running. The crowd are immediately up for it. Which isn’t surprising as they are full of energy and moves that have made them such a popular band on the UK circuit.

Angelo Tristan is full of his trade mark moves, very Steven Tylor, probably one of the reasons he got the part in the TV documentary on Aerosmith.

Rocking out left to right he makes sure the crowd see him as he rocks out the opening song, ‘Lullaby’ from the debut album, 2020’s Collateral. This is a great vehicle for him as he bounces around the stage full of energy and a huge smile. The band drop into ‘Mr Big Shot’ again from 2020’s self-named debut album.

Full of harmony’s and crash cymbals from Ben on the tubs. The crowd join in with the “Big Shot” in the chorus. Todd Wingers Purple KRAMER guitar is crying out as he rips into it. The partnership with Louis Malagodi works well as they trade licks back and forth. Jack Bently-Smith is digging in hard on the bass, his long hair makes him look like an extra from a gothic vampire film, no bad thing chicks dig hair (apparently).

Tristan dons an acoustic and tunes up complaining it’s too hot as his guitar has gone out of tune since the sound check. We have a good crowd into night as he introduces ‘Midnight Queen’ their first single, from the EP ‘Four Shots’ released in 2018. It’s got a great country vibe wrapped up in a rockin’ overcoat as the guitars quickly remind to that this Ain’t no country ballad.

It’s a great sing along tune. A solid vehicle that lets you see another side to frontman, Tristan’s great voice. Yes, he’s got a decent set of pipes on him, honestly. He and Bently Smith give it some as Todd Winger lets rip with another tasty solo. There is some enthusiastic shouting from the crowd as the song plays out.

‘No Place for Love’ has now to follow on that great tune. Which it does so admirably, but not before a band shout out and crowd recognition. This is a tune that features on the new album, due out later this month. There is a definite matureness about this one as the band had grown during the enforced lockdown. There is, of course, the DE rigour sing along part as Tristan gets the crowd to joining in.

‘Sin in the City’ is introduced as the single that’s been released from the new album. It’s a hard-hitting rocky number. The solid back line thumps out hard as the voice and guitars ramp up. Tristan is up on the speaker cab at the corner of the stage as he screams out, someone wolf whistles him as the guitars cut in with scorching licks that take the song forward. The solid drumming from Ben Atkinson is solid as usual, as this ‘caveman’ hits things hard!, it’s always nice to hear plenty ride and bell during a song.

After asking for the crowd to make some feckin’ noise, the very Bon Jovi inspired ‘Merry Go Round’ thumps out. The feel is one that gets the heads nodding and feet tapping, Tristan’s acoustic is breaking through, not lost in the mix, well done Mr Soundman.

With the guitars providing backing vocals until Malagodi rips out a sonic lick that changes the direction of the song as the break down set’s KK’s on fire. Hand clapping follows on as the song almost dictates it itself, a nice piece of writing. It finishes with a round of cheers which go un answered as the band drop into an instrumental ‘outro’ to finish the 30minute set.

The crowd have loved them and the cheering continues as Tristan acknowledges the crowd by getting them to put their hands up for the photo. Cry’s and screams ring out along with even louder applause.

The boys have smashed another opening set. A fantastic start to the night with a response worthy of their hard work. The attention around these boys is starting to build as they had the likes of Phil X (Phil X and the Drills, Bon Jovi), Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Sons of Apollo), Joel Hoekstra (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Foreigner, Night Ranger, Whitesnake), Kee Marcello (Easy Action, Europe, and the Kee Marcello Band) and others help on the new album ‘RE- Wired’ which is available for pre order on their web site now and is due out on October 21st.

The stage is cleared away, it’s a quick change over as Ben was using Craig McFetridge’s kit so it’s a simple snare and cymbal change.

With your backs against the wall intro playing out, green lighting soaking the stage and the MASON HILL logo emblazoned on the back screen in yellow, the scene is set and it lets you know that this hard hitting five piece is in town, and ready for action! Scott Taylor and the boys of MASON HILL waste no time in getting down to business. This rocking band are from, Glasgow, yes, North of Hadrian’s wall which ,thankfully, fails to keep this ‘warrior tribe’ from the north out.

The cheers go up as the band walk on, Scott, straight away, is asking the crowd “how are we?”, “We! Are! Mason Hill” as they go straight into the rocky opener, ‘Hold On’ from the album ‘Against the Wall’ (as are the rest of the set).

The drums thud out as the guitars of Bird and, backward hat wearing, Montgomery share the guitar duties. The scene is being set with all the subtleties of a broadsword wielded by William Wallace, In Braveheart. Again, Scott Taylor, introduces the band and says “it’s so great to be here” the band conclude the opening song. Bird laying down a fat lick as they do so.

‘DNA’ opens up with a McFetridge drum lick not un-similar to the beginning of Hawaii 5 ‘O’, only joking but it is a stunning almost tribal beat as they rip it a new one. Matthew Ward, on bass is mouthing the words as he drops the moves as his thumping bassline rearranges your internals. Birds blue Les Paul is sounding sweet as he effortlessly strokes lick after lick out of it.

Taylor is up close and personal, his long hair falling over his face as he screams out the “DNA” lyric. We like that one a lot!

This is a stunning set already; the hard riffs are hitting home with the weight of a Scottish regiment on the war path. As we flow into ‘Out of Reach’ we get a shout out to Collateral and then acknowledgement that Craig is ok after his accident, and to Matthew on bass who got married last week. Scott adds, “we’re all grown up now” the crowds cheer is both congratulatory and celebratory.

The staccato guitar starts out along-side a steady drumbeat introducing the song to cheers from the crowd. Scott is deliberate with his delivery as he croons to the crowd. Looking around the hands are up and the heads are nodding along. Even my wife is enjoying herself to this new band to her. Taylor asks for some noise for Bird as this young axe man delivers a Fat solo and dripping with delights, it fills a great breakdown as the song continues to pummel your sense’s in a good way!

‘Find My Way’ and ‘Where I Belong’ continue this stunning headline worthy show. The crowd are cheering to everything being said. The thundering drums hit you hard. With a lot of bands, you get a weaker middle section but not tonight, this is a powerful set that is lifting the roof off, the guitars are cutting through and the place is rocking. A partisan crowd sing along to ‘Where I Belong’ as Scott’s voice is up front. The solo around it is just as tasty, fat and dripping with Gibson goodness.

‘We Pray’ starts off with a dark and brooding riff, heads are down and rocking out as the vocal kicks in. The McFetridge drums are solid, as the bouncing crowd join in on the chorus. Another anthemic classic MASON HILL tune. So far tonight hey have played a blinder, nothing to complain about here.

Scott makes sure that he introduces everyone on the stage during ‘Broken Son’. He says “If nothing else covid has taught me that you never know which day will be your last”. He goes through the band, who each receive great cheers for each call out. “Saying we have to be so quick”, “this is our last song”, “We! Are’ MASON HILL, this is” ‘Against the Wall’.

The familiar tune strikes up and has the bouncing crowd singing along. This is a tune that unites the fans. During the first chorus there is a squirt of pyro, the heat hitting my face and I’m stood at the back! As the song grinds out, with the crowd singing along we have more pyro. What we were told would be a single shot has turned into a great pyro show, flames dancing back and forth across the stage as the song is brought to a close. What a cracking set! A final “ WE ARE MASON FUCKING HILL” from Scott and the place erupts!

I compare shots with Scott the tog, hoping we both got some worthwhile shots of the pyro.

A quick visit to the bar for more drinks for the good lady, she’s bound to be a tad thirsty after all that fire. I find that she loved MASON HILL. Scott and the boys have a new fan.

The set is cleared away quickly by the efficient team here at KK’s. We’re warned that there will be more pyro and smoke by the resident pyromaniac, he has a great way in letting us know that we are good in the pit with it going off. He says he will have a kill switch which will stop the show dead in its tracks should anything happen. There are strategically placed extinguishers should the need arise. Great organisation by the team once again.

As the 9:20 start time passes, the crowd has swelled, and moved forward for a better view. Glen Fry’s ‘The Heat Is On’ blasts out over the PA as the lights dim and the cover of the new album ‘Force Majeure’ lights up the back screen, replacing the H.E.A.T. logo. The crowd sing along. The band run on to the stage and plug in as the lights change from blue to red and strobing blinders. Kenny walks on, his long hair flowing and a beaming smile up lights the room.

Needless to say, the crowd have gone nuts so is the charismatic appeal for this enigmatic frontman as they are straight into ‘Back to The Rhythm’ from the new album Force Majeure. As the words “back to the rhythm of fire” are sung out, the pre warned pyro lights the room up. You can’t have a band called H.E.A.T without a bit of fire can you! Dave Dalone’s guitar screams out a scorching solo as ‘Crashes’ drums envelope it firmly.

The pyro continues along with smoke cannons as Kenny jumps about careful of his hair and the flames. The crowd go nuts as Kenny says “we’re only just fucking started”. He follows it with one of his trademark screams, as the band drop into ‘Dangerous Ground’ from H.E.A.T.II.

He has certainly had his Weetabix and fresh Duracell’s as he bounces and runs about the stage, singing to everyone in the room. In fact, he jumps into the pit and casually walks along shaking hands with everyone. My good lady is happy as Kenny has shaken her hand. The couple just up from her are also over the moon, The Mr has a definite boy crush on Kenny and the band and is delighted.

Kenny’s back on the stage saying “I’m having a great time up here how about you” “it’s been a long time since HEAT came over to Wolverhampton and performed a headline show” “it’s time to get your hips moving this one is ‘Rock Your Body”, this is from the same album. The crowd take over the singing duties as they clap and bounce along. Third song in and the crowd are in Kenny’s pocket. Sweet.

The band are smiling as they rock out to this classic tune. Jimmy Jay on bass over on-stage left is face pulling and dropping the shapes, over on-stage right Kenny is shouting in Dave Dalone’s face “you look like you wanna party tonight, why don’t you tell them” as he rips out a soaring solo.

The band carries on with its anthemic singalong, Kenny on the riser stage centre, punching the air and swooping his hair back behind his head as he dances along.

The crowd are having a field day as they cheer along. ‘Come Clean’ is up next again another from H.E.A.T. II and the crowd are still singing along. This is a great crowd tonight. We have moved from the pit; I hurriedly strip my kit down and pack it away so as to get back in and enjoy the rest of the show. The song has the crowd bouncing along as I try to make my way to the wife. Not easy as she’s on the barrier, folk can be a bit shirty about you pushing to the front. I stand and wait for a decent moment, there isn’t going to be one!

‘Redefined‘ from into The Great Unknown’ follows with its striking tom tom riff and Wha-ah-ah-oh sing along. I find a spot by a roof support, to plan my run to the Wife. The sound is stunning tonight the vocal is crystal clear as the song belts out. Kenny’s vocal is strong, I’ve heard it has gotten better and better throughout the year of touring. Kenny says “ it’s time we go to a different place, a dark one called ‘Hollywood”. This is another anthemic sing along as the crowd take over the singing duties again.

Crashes drums drive the song along as Kenny’s voice, again, soars like an eagle over the top. The guitar from Dalone cries out hard as this one from the new Force Majeure album, it has the crowd bouncing as one as they sing back. The energy coming from the stage would power KK’s tonight its simply electric. Kenny talks about the last show he did with the band at Gröna Lund, Sweden, after the show he had a feeling that he shared with the guys saying “he would be back on stage with them again”, “and all these years later here we fucking are”.

My heart is filled with happiness” he continues, “this next song was our first single ‘Straight for Your Heart’. It’s from the self-titled first album from 2008. Another banging sing along full of crashing guitars, thunder drums, swirling keys and soaring vocals.

“Kenny says it’s great to play a classic old song from 16 years ago” he has a discussion with Dave about doing a Q & A with the band. He says “the problem he has that he talks, when he talks its blah blah blah” he goes on,” would you like some music instead”? The crowd cheer to the affirmative. “This ones from the new album, get your hands up ”‘Tainted Blood’ starts with a walking drum beat, screaming vocals and sizzling guitar. Jona Tee’s keys are swirling around helping with that trademark ‘H.E.A.T.’ sound. The fast solo from a head down Dave Dalone gives an added spark to this future classic.

Crash then drops into a fast frenzy of drums, I’ve picked this time to try and get to my Mrs. Not easy as some guys challenge my motives, there can be a few people that don’t want you to get past, I manage it as Kenny interrupts the solo and starts a call and answer “Whoah Whoah Ahs” the crowd duly sing back. He sings “I am a pervert” and the crowd sing it, and he says “ Wolverhampton I fucking knew it this the whole time!” the crowd laugh out loud! The drum solo continues to a thundering climax. I’ve made it to stand behind my wife. If anyone reads this that I excused my way past, then thank you.

‘One by One’ has the crowd chanting and clapping as they build into this great tune. The pyro is back along with the smoke as Kenny runs back on stage, he is now wearing the Union flag as a cape, as he continues to bounce about. As the song finishes, he asks for some love for MASON HILL and Collateral, the bands that have played tonight.

‘Beg Beg Beg’ follows on, this is from the 2010 sophomore album ‘Freedom Rock’. He starts off with singing “Dave” repeatedly as Dave Delone screams out a guitar lick after each name call. A great way of having a seemingly impromptu guitar solo from this maestro. The drums kick in and we’re bouncing along again. The crowd are again in fine voice as they sing ”Beg Beg Beg” back to the band. Kenny is up on the bouncer step again singing over the heads of the front row. The crowd are loving it. Standing behind crash he asks for the hands again as he hits a couple of cymbals before jumping down and racing to the front.

He goes on to say “ Yesterday we played in Leeds” there’s a huge groan from the crowd “They were fuckin’ LOUD” he carries on, as the crowd again groan. “Now let me see you put your money where your mouth is?” “now it’s time for you to sing with me, I will judge if your good enough to condemn Leeds” The crowd sing back, someone adds “fuck you Leeds”, you can’t knock a bit of friendly banter. The band stop. Kenny shouts “Is This Wolverhampton, The Birth place Of Heavy Fucking Metal?”, he does like the ‘F’ word, the band start up again with the steady riffing.

A Yeah Yeah” starts and is sung back, Kenny gets clever and Sings longer and harder, this is again returned, LOUD! Kenny says he needs new ears. Now he’s going to sing something a bit more complicated and he asks for crash to drop it down a bit. The “Begs” flow back and forth, as he walks about the stage getting the crowd to join in. Both “Begs” and fists fly around the place. His smile is huge as the band continue the song. With both his hands pointing skywards the song is brought to a crashing finish with a jump from the drum riser and a roll on the floor.

Jonas starts on the keys as Kenny tries to read a sign in the crowd, he invites a guy up on stage, he’s asked to duet “Cry” with Kenny. “Sometimes its fucking hard to realise how much a song means to people when you are in the moment”. “It’s amazing that someone has the balls to get up and sing this song”, Kenny points out it means a lot to him. The guy jokes and kisses Kenny on the forehead. He’s given the Mic and he starts the song off. OMG he can fucking sing.

He is terrific as he and Kenny sing along together, they harmonise perfectly, Kenny has the vocals and the fan is on his knees, he kisses his shoes, then he’s up and acknowledging the band, shaking hands and collecting a beer from the crew, he is again on the mic, it’s a special moment the harmonies are superb. Kenny walks him back stage as the band play the breakdown section.

It’s a stand out moment and the band are loving it. The guy takes the mic again and hits the high notes, Kenny is smiling and then shows him how it’s done, lol a stunning moment, as they hug centre stage. “Kenny says it’s a special moment to fore fill someone’s dream, he’d give anything to be able to get up and sing his favourite song with the band that wrote it”, “that threw me off completely” he adds.

‘1000 Miles” is up next, a song they played at the Swedish qualifier for the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2009, back when Kenny was sporting a porno style moustache. This ias another firm fan favourite from the first album.

A quick reprise and they’re back with ‘Breaking the Silence’ from ‘Address the Nation’ the third album from 2012. This was the first album to feature the new singer Erik Grönwall, who has now moved on to sing with Skid Row. The crowd are again on top voice as they join in with Kenny’s sizzling vocals. His voice is like a siren as he hits those notes time and time again. ‘Nationwide’ the fourth song from the new album quickly follows on.

The crowd have been amazing, hanging on every word and singing throughout. “lost in music” Kenny starts to beat box before saying “I wish that every show was like this”, “I don’t want it to end, ever”, “can we do this every fucking night”? he adds; the crowd obviously cheer yeah! The song continues as he parades around, seemingly having lost no energy at all! This beat driven number thumps out as the crowd bounce to it. Horns are being thrown in the air as they sing along. The solo rips out as Kenny grabs a fresh beer and empties it quickly, his hair once dried by the pyro is now soaked again.

The music dies down to a drone like sound like that of the neighbour who is fly mowing his lawn. Kenny is kneeling on the floor bathed in blue light white spots play out as he says “man I need a fucking beer”, “ that’s Alex by the way, he’s fucking awesome” as a beer is delivered. The singing goes on “I’ve been hiding” Kenny is hanging on the words as we go into the last song, ‘A shot at Redemption’. Setting the atmosphere, the song slowly builds as Kenny’s voice swoops and soars. The crowd start clapping along to Crash’s metronomic foot drum.

The guitar of Dave Dalone builds as the layers of the band start to come together. Kenny tries to get Dalone to sing along saying he has a cracking voice, but it’s the guitar he wants to play with so it doesn’t happen. Kenny continues to bounce as he delivers this banger of a closing tune from 2014’s ‘Tearing Down the Walls’ which is exactly what the band have done tonight. It’s been a stunning show of Scandinavian Rock. It’s a sound that you can’t help but smile along to, it’s got a great feel good vibe that is missing in a lot of todays music.

Judas Priest meets ABBA ha ha if you like! It works well and the crowd in here tonight would agree. This band deserve to be up there with the likes of Europe, Hanoi Rocks, Hardcore Superstar and the Hives. The influences that some of the Scandinavian bands have had on the big American hard hitters is well documented. A stunning breeding ground for metal music, melodic or otherwise.

The band bring the set to a close but not before the usual fan photo’s, Mr Set list gets given a copy of the set from Jimmy Jay, I know he’ll be happy. Pics and sticks are thrown into the crowd as momento’s. My Mrs was standing on a pic that a guy next to her hastily grabs and gives to his girlfriend. She’s happy!

And so, the night comes to a close, it’s been a great evening of live music once again. H.E.A.T. tore the place a new one with a devasting set of tunes from their back catalogue. I saw them at Steel House during the summer and they smashed the set there as they performed in the rain. Tonight was, however, on another level. After their tour down under, they have return to the Northern Hemisphere on fire. Touring has sharpened them into a formidable “Force Majeure”

Oh, and the wife, she fell asleep and slept until a few hundred yards from home, waking up saying “oh that didn’t take long”, she’d been asleep for 40+ minutes. She loved the night however! A good result!

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