Hard to believe it’s been 33 years since I last saw Diamond Head at Donington as part of the Monsters of Rock Festival back in 1983. Fast forward and here we are at La Belle Angele in Edinburgh. A venue I have never been in before but a nice sized 600 capacity venue that seems to be on the up all of a sudden with Gun, Alien Ant Farm & the mighty Anvil coming up in the next few weeks.
First up tonight are Livingston band Tantrum (Scotland), a band I have been trying to catch live for a while now and they did not disappoint. The band played a short, 30 minute, set of good old sunset strip Rock n Roll meets NWOBHM. This included a not too shabby version of Faster Pussycat’s “Bathroom Wall” which had a number of the crowd singing along.
The band’s drummer Billy has been in several other bands and I have seen him play before but with Tantrum he seems to have found his niche. He’s quite the skin beater these days and even a broken cymbal stand does not phase the laddie. The two guitarists Steve & Stoo had a good rapport between them with Stoo also on backing vocals looking the more classic of the two, while Steve went for that lower slung guitar look.
The bass is more than ably handled by Erik who looks like he stepped out of an early incarnation of The Almighty, hammering away on the bass with hair flying all over the place. The singer Adam has a very solid set of rock vocal lungs about him as he belts out the bands songs including the upcoming new single “All Hail Rock N Roll” – it could be all hail Tantrum soon though. Definitely a band to watch out for.
Next up, from Dunfermline, are Concrete Kingdoms who I’m sure I’ve seen before at Bannermans. This is a straight down the line Rock n Roll band with influences from The Doors to Tom Petty and all in between. The band have their first EP coming out shortly and have been touring a fair amount with the likes of Puddle of Mudd, Mitch Malloy and Nazareth while getting a fairly good reputation – and well deserved it is too.
The singer/guitarist Neil reminds me of someone but I just can’t put my finger on it, he has a nice laid back soulful rock voice on the slower numbers but I liked his full on voice better on the full on songs. The lead guitar is ably taken up by Ben, and man he can squeeze some tunes out of that guitar. He’s one of the best players I have seen for a while in a new band, be it on the slow ones or the full on rock numbers where he really shines. The rhythm section is suitably handled by Dougie on bass – both he and drummer Grant keep the band moving along at a steady pace.
Given the recent and upcoming tour slots, the EP and so on this band are on the up and they can only get better, I thoroughly enjoyed their set tonight which fitted in well between Tantrum and the headliners. If they are in your area give them a listen, I think you will enjoy them.
So the band we are all waiting for – Diamond Head. I had been looking forward to this one, being a long long time fan of the band and the new album is stunning. I couldn’t wait to hear it live tonight.
The intro kicks and the crowd roar as the band and the man himself walk on stage, Brian Tatler looking a touch older than I last saw him as he picks up his trademark White Gibson Flying V and the band launch into “Borrowed Time” from 1982’s album of the same name. With Dean on bass hitting a steady rhythm along with Karl on drums, I hear the stunning vocals of Rasmus for the first time live.
We get a taste of the new album next in the form of the stunning “Bones” with its fantastic guitar intro before Rasmus launches his vocal assault on us all. He has us all on the edge with this awesome track, one of my favourites of the night. The crunching guitar that is up now takes me back to my 18 year old self when patches were all the rage as they bring “Lightning to the Nations” from 1980’s album of the same name.
The drum beat from Karl heralds in “See You Rise”, the second one tonight from the new opus. Rasmus is just an awesome singer and frontman with Dean on Bass bouncing about, but it’s Brian who is on fire like a man possessed and rejuvenated with the new material and it shows. I am helpless and in heaven now as the band launch into said “Helpless” track, for us original old NWOBHM fans this is just sheer bliss.
We head back to the new album with the quite simply stunning “All the Reasons You Live” minus the string section but none the less powerful, with its big vocal nod toward Chris Cornell. The superb playing from Brian tonight is perfect on the old and new tracks. This is Diamond Head going forward no doubt about that. Another stroll down my youth now with “In the Heat of the Night”. Given how warm it’s getting in here it’s very apt and another testament of how strong their early tracks really were.
It’s quickly followed, from the same album, by “To Heaven From Hell”. We get all “Starcrossed (Lovers of the Night)” next, the only track tonight from the Death & Progress album from 1993, before we head into new album territory with “Diamonds”, another great track from a flawless album. The guitar says it all as 1980 beckons again with “The Prince”, a headbanger’s paradise and there are a few heads tonight going for it.
As if it could not get any better, originally a single in 1979, we have “Shoot Out the Lights” next. Rasmus does the old stuff real credit along with Dean plugging away on bass and Karl thumping/sweating away in the rear. The man himself is all smiles tonight and really having a great, effortless night playing away on guitar. Brian has to be pleased with where the band are at the moment.
They finish the main set with two from Lightning to the Nations in the form of the awesome “It’s Electric”, followed by the one and only “Am I Evil?”, a track which has taken on legendary status when Metallica covered it not too badly a while back. The roar from the crowd says it all – I still get goosebumps as the guitar riff kicks in. I’m not sure it can get any better than this as the band go offstage.
A bit of encouragement from the crowd and the band come back on with “Shout at the Devil” – not Motley Crue, but the last track tonight from the new album and again Rasmus soars away with his killer voice. We end with a track that I bet Metallica wish they had written in “Sucking My Love” from Lightning to the Nations. I was not sure what to expect tonight given 1983 was the last time I saw Brian live but if anything, this has renewed and given my faith in NWOBHM a huge boost. If you can go see them live and get the new album killer band all round, I go home a very happy man tonight.
- Borrowed Time
- Lightning to the Nations
- See You Rise
- All the Reasons You Live
- In the Heat of the Night
- To Heaven From Hell
- Starcrossed (Lovers of the Night)
- The Prince
- Shoot Out the Lights
- It’s Electric
- Am I Evil?
- Shout at the Devil
- Sucking My Love
All photos by Gary Cooper.