Concert Reviews

Gotthard / The Crave Hot

Added by James Gaden     February 17, 2010    
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Gotthard / The Crave, live at JB’s, Dudley – 2nd November 2009

It’s quite fair to say that Gotthard are one of the most popular Melodic Rock bands around at the moment. They’ve been doing it for long enough to have become a well-oiled machine, and one of the most professional. Of course, it’s easy to be like that when you have a large organisation – in the rest of Europe they can easily pack out a venue the size of the N.E.C. (or whatever it’s called now), so you have to take your hats off to them for coming over here to play a venue like JB’s, though I think they found it a bit of a struggle fitting all their equipment inside! The band have been steadily becoming more popular in the UK since the release of the ‘Lipservice’ album, and now with the release of the excellent ‘Need To Believe’ opus they return to Dudley for the first of three UK dates. And I have to be honest, I haven’t seen JB’s this packed for a Melodic Rock show since Firehouse appeared here in 2004. 
Support tonight comes from The Crave, a four-piece from Brighton, offering an exciting contemporary rock sound, with a touch of sleaze thrown in for good measure. I’m reliably informed that they sound like a mixture of the Goo Goo Dolls and 30 Seconds To Mars (thanks Dale!) The sound at the front wasn’t too clear, and the vocals very low in the mix, so it was hard to catch the names of any of the songs, but they came across as very tuneful and melodic. Guitarist Carlos Garcia is a real talent, with some great riffing and very melodic solos, without being flashy. He is also a great focal point, constantly throwing his guitar around, and making good use of the limited space on stage. They are going to be supporting Deep Purple on their next arena tour, and are surely on the path to superstardom. Indeed, The Crave left me wanting more!
As for the main event, Gotthard obviously realise that it’s the latest crop of albums that have garnered them so much support in the UK, so the majority of the set is kept very current. And also kept very uptempo, with no ballads aired until a short acoustic section midway. Newie ‘Unspoken Words’ heralds the band’s arrival on stage, and the temperature in JB’s rises rapidly. Frontman Steve Lee is in great voice, and the poor sound that marred The Crave’s set is quickly forgotten. Leo Leoni and Freddy Scherer trade neat guitar licks, these two guys are surely the most underrated guitarists around. A bank of lighting boards at the back of the stage is well used through the entirety of the set, changing to reflect the mood of each song. ‘Gone Too Far’ from the ‘Domino Effect’ album is up next, before the first real sing-along of the night in ‘Top Of The World’. Then the tempo is dropped slightly for ‘Need To Believe’ which is warmly received, before the first real oldie of the night. ‘I’ve got something hard in my pocket’ teases Steve Lee, then produces his harmonica, which can only mean one thing – ‘Sister Moon’. Then it’s another oldie, ‘Hush’, which prompts the entire crowd to join in on the ‘Na Na Na Na’ chorus.
Leo’s twin necked guitar then makes an appearance for ‘I Know, You Know’, the first of three tracks from the latest CD, then it’s ‘Right From Wrong’ and ‘Unconditional Faith’, which is preceded by a short but very good solo from Freddy Scherer.

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Then two stools are bought out onto the stage for Steve and Leo’s acoustic set, where the audience are encouraged to shout out requests for the songs. In fairness, I think they expect the crowd to always shout for the same songs – when somebody next to me shouted for ‘Sweet Little Rock’n’Roller’ (from the ‘G’ album), Steve says ‘Really?’ and looks a little worried, but then a few people shout for ‘Angel’, which definitely seems more like what the guys had in mind. Then I get my personal fave ‘Let It Be’, which then morphs into what is probably Gotthard’s biggest hit, the beautiful ‘Heaven’, then the acoustic section closes with a little snippet of ‘Lonely People’. And from there onwards it’s uptempo rock’n’roll all the way to the end, with the Led Zep inspired ‘Shangri-La’, ‘All We Are’, ‘I Don’t Mind’ and ‘The Oscar Goes To You’, then the glam-rock shuffle beat of ‘Lift U Up’ closes the main set.
Gotthard soon return for the slow and heavy oldie ‘Firedance’, before the night is wrapped up with the awesome ‘Anytime, Anywhere’. Gotthard obviously have a lot of faith in their newer material, and it’s very well received by the audience, when you think that so many G classics like ‘Mountain Mama’, ‘Movin’ On’, ‘Mighty Quinn’ and ‘One Life, One Soul’ didn’t get a look in. And judging by the size of the crowd, next time they tour the UK they will probably need to play bigger venues.

Ant Heeks

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