||WEAPON/HEAVY METAL KIDS/LOUDSHIRTS
1st August 2011
What a wonderful thing the NWOBHM was. Gleaning thousands of Metal bands in 80s, and creating a snowball effect that's still rock 'n' rolling thirty years later.
Some of those original bands have, of course, yielded fabulous fortunes. Those who didn't stick their thumbs out at the right time to hitch a ride in the limo to the cosmos, instead settled for a transit van up the M1. Some gave up completely, and some have now returned – because, frankly, there is no music as enduring as rock and Metal, and we need 'em. Not all of us can afford to go and see those who catapulted to O2 Arena status.
Take Weapon, for example, as alive and vital today as they were thirty years ago (and they're not the only ones, so there's a lot to be said for age and experience). Mind you, none of this lot have stopped playing, what with the likes of Wildfire, Statetrooper and Paddy Goes To Holyhead keeping their pecs toned.
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Danny Hynes, who we used to call Danny 'Big Hair' in those halcyon NWOBHM days because of his ludicrous quiff and long black hair, is as excited as a kid about Weapon's forthcoming Bulgarian jaunt. Tonight is the warm-up gig, and there's a low-key but celebratory air, plus a few surprise guests propping up the (cheap) bar at Merton Manor Club.
'Set The Stage Alight' opens the set with a good old-fashioned burst of metal nostalgia, and wakes up some of the old boys having a quiet pint at the back of the social club. Followed swiftly by 'Liar', and Danny's vocals are still disappearing a little amidst the Summers' brothers harmonies, but as the band are doing their own sound, there's not a lot can be done about it until there's a decent break.
Guitarist Jeff Summers' brother Garry, incidentally, is standing in for bassist Gavin Cooper, but you really wouldn't know he's only had two rehearsals with Weapon. What with playing regular gigs with The Loudshirts, the Summers brothers' covers band, also playing tonight, Garry's a veteran at spanking his plank. Drummer Ian Sweeting is a diamond of a drummer, a real find, bashing away with unbridled enthusiasm.
There's definitely a feeling of joie de 'eavy Metal vivre tonight, this element boosted by the presence of the Heavy Metal Kids – bar Phil Lewis, John Altman or whoever's standing in on vocals these days. Danny enthusiastically announces that Cosmo, Justin McConville and Keith Boyce might play a few numbers, though it's hard to tell how enthusiastic they're feeling about this, specially Cosmo, who is, shall we say, as cool as a cucumber to talk to.
Through Weapon's 'Take That Bottle Away', 'The Light Of The World' and finally their new video single, 'Ready 4 U!', this really has been yet another success for the OWOBHM. Bulgaria have a treat waiting for them...
And so the three HM Kids nonchalantly wander towards the 'stage', Justin covering vocals and bass tonight. They play with their usual cool confidence, opening their mini-set with the rollicking 'She's No Angel', then covering 'The Hunter' and 'Stand By Me', Justin hollering magnificently, and I wonder why they even need a vocalist. Indeed, when I asked them afterwards, they didn't seem too sure themselves!
As one of the Loudshirts' regular haunts, the Summers' brothers play out the evening with their usual sublimely tight set. It's amazing that there are musicians as proficient as any stadium headliner whizzing round the underground. As I said earlier, though, these are the bands who keep the heart and soul of rock burning so brightly. It's immediately apparent they've been playing together forever, Jeff's gifted riffing connecting with Garry's bass like some kind of telepathy. Well, they are brothers.
The two sing in perfect harmony, dishing out the likes of 'You Give Love A Bad Name', 'Wicked Game', 'Livin' For The City' and 'Beds Are Burning' with consummate ease. Do check these guys out on the circuit.
All in all, a low-key night as satisfying as any major gig.
Best band of the night? You know who you are.