The Sweet Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 28, 2019    
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The Sweet - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (UK) - 01 December 2019

People who are old enough will remember the Sweet, the Rock band disguised as a "Pop" group. The chart successes with the singles they released were classics, but they belied what the Sweet really did. People who looked a little closer though, knew what they were capable of. Again, it's a shame that only one member is in the band; two people, singer Brian Connolly and drummer Mick Tucker, are sadly no longer with us, while bass player Steve Priest has relocated to the US. The last time I saw them was at the O2 Arena on the Stonefree festival in 2017, supporting the revamped Rainbow. Tonight, however, they would be playing an area no bigger than a badminton court. A strange thing the music business. It was sold out, no surprise, which would mean it would be a bit of a crush, which it was, and despite there being some young people there, the venue was mainly awash with a sea of bald people.

But before Sweet, we had the support band The Novatines. I didn't know them, so had no idea what to expect. Turned out they were pretty good, playing music that any Rock fan would enjoy, with neat riffs and memorable hooks here and there. Guitar based, the songs in their allotted thirty minutes included 'Hate Love', 'Get It Together', 'Medicine', 'Five' which was quite catchy, 'Joyride', new single 'Come Alive' and 'Silver Screen', for which singer Jamie Beale asked the crowd to shine their torches on their mobile phones, which quite a few did. Worth seeing if you get the chance.

So, Andy Scott's (The) Sweet (never sure about that) entered the stage at 9pm to a heaving mass of people that shouldn't really be heaving in any form or description, but it was heartening to see that the band's fans still hold them in as high a regard as ever. They started with 'Action' and everybody was singing along with them. Andy explained that there were two new members on stage with them who joined this summer as they had lost the keyboards and bassist within a short space of time earlier this year (previous bassist Tony O'Hora only having left in October). Steve Mann, who had stood in with Sweet on previous occasions, was now permanent on keyboards/guitar, while Lee Small was the new boy on bass and backing vocals, who unfortunately had put his back out while exiting a car, and had to play sat on an upended, unused monitor. Andy Scott also made us aware that this was the fifty-first year of Sweet, and that he was seventy years old; both of these received considerable applause. He also mentioned that having walked past the concert hall, he noticed posters advertising Susan Boyle concerts, and that long-time drummer Bruce Bisland looked like the love child. I remembered that two years ago the main vocals were done by the bass player, which would suggest the singer was new also, but nothing was said, although he did look really familiar. I was shocked to discover that it was none other than Paul Manzi, the vocalist of one of my favourite bands that I know very well, Arena. I was quite concerned about this, as I didn't want them to lose him as a vocalist, but I found out that it was his Cats In Space hat that he was leaving off, remaining with Sweet while doing Arena part-time.

Surprisingly, to me at least, they played 'Hellraiser' early on in the set, and a little later a song that Andy said was one of his favourites by Chinn and Chapman, 'The Six Teens'. He also mentioned that they had comments on their website regarding some of their rockier material, and they had noted that and included two such songs, 'Peppermint Twist' and 'ACDC', which included Scott and Mann duelling guitars together. These also incorporated very loud audience participation. Andy then went on to tell us that the last tour they did as the original Sweet (although I don't think Brian Connolly was with them on that) was in 1981, and included Rock City which they had tried to move tonight's gig to, but "some fucking Americans got there first." He also mentioned that he got into a fight, which was "normal for here, right?" 'Set Me Free' was interesting, as he used a tin can to play slide guitar with. On the setlist, it said 'Dance/drum solo' at this point, but that was missed out as they went straight into 'Teenage Rampage' after getting the crowd to chant "We want Sweet." 'Wig Wam Bam' was supposed to go straight into 'Little Willy' but the crowd continued singing "WWB" which surprised and put them off-stride a little, until they eventually got back to the script. 'Love Is Like Oxygen' actually had a well-performed 'Fanfare For The Common Man' slotted into the middle of it, before finishing the song with everyone singing along. This was the end of the main set and they were supposed to leave the stage, but the crowd started chanting their name before they could, so they stayed on and went straight into the encore of 'Blockbuster' with the crowd all shouting Andy's lines, and 'Ballroom Blitz' which saw the two guitarists play together again.

And that was it for this time. Will it happen again? An excellent show that was also thoroughly enjoyed by the people who performed it. Andy Scott actually commented that the last seven years of playing with the band had been the best ever since joining Sweet, and that next year they would be recording a brand new album for Sony records. So it would be fair to say that we can expect to see them tour again. Don't miss it if they do.

Review by Andy B & Lou C., photos by Andy B.

Set list: Action, New York Groove,(Hello), Hellraiser, Burn On The Flame, Six Teens, Peppermint Twist (Joey Dee & The Starliters), ACDC, Turn It Down, Sweet Fanny Adams, Set Me Free, Teenage Rampage, Wig Wam Bam/Little Willy, Love Is Like Oxygen, Fox On The Run. Encore: Blockbuster, Ballroom Blitz.

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