You know who one of the best modern rock bands are? H.E.A.T. With five albums, including the latest and divisive Into the Great Unknown (I thought it was great, personally) and a live album recorded in London, they’ve now added another live release to their arsenal. This time it’s recorded in their native Sweden at, you guessed it, the nation’s annual Sweden Rock Festival and incorporated album five into the mix.
Consisting of only an hour, they squeeze a baker’s dozen tracks into that timeframe which also sees them play an extended version of “Beg Beg Beg” with snippets of “Whole Lotta Rosie” and “Take a Little Piece of My Heart” squeezed into it and between-song banter from vocalist Erik Grönwall (which he does in his mother tongue of Swedish and you can’t fault that – he’s playing to a home audience). And in that time, nothing suffers. Instead, it serves to highlight how damn good they are as a live act. It’s a great insight on how to work a festival appearance and given it’s their home one, it adds that extra special ingredient. Whilst they’re a band that give it their all every night, there’s a sense they’re giving even more (if such a thing were possible).
Indeed, this is a perfect example of how to do a live album. It feels like you’re at the performance and makes you yearn to see them again (or inspires you to catch them for the first time on the next tour) by perfectly capturing the energy that only H.E.A.T provide from their shows. The five-piece are channelling something very special on this and not only does the album sound flawless with everything mixed perfectly, you can feel their on-stage chemistry come to life as it battles its way out of the speakers alongside the music. They’re not putting a foot wrong at any point and it’s them at their best.
They may have been touring on an album which had a poppier sound with a heavier slant on that side of the spectrum but they’ve peppered the songs throughout expertly. And even then, they’ve not opted for the easy route of taking the heaviest songs from Into the Great Unknown and throwing them into the mix of their rockier back catalogue. Instead, they’ve taken a couple of the more left-field numbers and brought them to life, roughing them up in spots and elsewhere, keeping it true to the album, playing what they want to. And whilst their previous efforts had a grittier sound to them, these newer songs slot in perfectly. It’s not like they’re about to stop catering to the rock audience, these newer tracks were just skewed further into their melodic territory than they’ve ever gone. “Redefined” works just as well as “Late Night Lady” and “A Shot at Redemption” in front of a rock crowd.
Live at Sweden Rock Festival is one of the best live albums in recent years. Putting the energy of a H.E.A.T performance into an audio format isn’t an easy task and they’ve smashed it. It’s been handled with care and there’s a number of lessons in one listen that many bands can take from it. It’s a great introduction to the band and will satiate the appetite of existing fans whilst we wait on the next album and tour. The only fault (and it’s a very tiny one) – it’s too short.
Live at Sweden Rock Festival is out now