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MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
WEAPON/HEAVY METAL KIDS: MERTON MANOR CLUB
Photos by Sally Newhouse
The Merton Manor Club is certainly the place to be. A cosy little working men's club not too far down the road from Wimbledon town centre. Thankfully one of it's members has had the brains to promote a few rock gigs here over the last year, giving the chance for some name bands to have a live rehearsal in a low key setting full of happy punters who also get to enjoy the cheap club bar prices of £2.50 for a pint or £6 for a bottle of plonk, and you never know who you might bump into here. Also drinking in the bar was former Quatermass and Gillan drumer Mick Underwood and the Rock Goddess herself, Jody Turner, still looking as beautiful as ever before.
Both Weapon and the Heavy Metal Kids often play here and tonight was a double bill with the Heavy Metal Kids opting to go on first as Weapon did that honour the night before in Ruislip.The Heavy Metal Kids were using this opportunity as a warm up for the Rebellion Festival date a week later.
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The Heavy Metal Kids released a trio of classic albums in the mid seventies and yet remain one of the most underrated bands in the history of rock. Post glam and pre punk, the Heavy Metal Kids were the missing link, a band that influenced many from Joe Elliot of Def Leppard to Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks.
Once fronted by the loveable and out of control Gary Holton, who sadly left this world far too early, the Heavy Metal Kids made a comeback in 2003 with the critically acclaimed album 'Hit The Right Button'. There's been more line up changes since then, most notably on the vocals where more recently actor John Altman and LA Gun Phil Lewis have made candid appearances.
In 2012 the Heavy Metal Kids are happy to push guitarist Justin McConville out front on the vocals. The recent support tour with UFO has paid dividends with McConville now having the confidence to express his different personas to highlight the characteristics of their songs.
'Chelsea Kids', 'Blue Eyed Boy' and 'Squalliday Inn' are raucous rockers. McConville takes on a mad demeanour for 'The Cops Are Coming', getting the crowd to sing along to the lines of "His head fell off...".
Cosmo is a superb guitarist playing tighter than a Glaswegian wallet. New boy and former Down 'N Outz bassist Ronnie Garity has fitted in snugly and original drummer Keith Boyce looks happy as Larry at the back, watching his boys in action. A cover of 'Rock Candy' dedicated to the departed Ronnie Montrose was a neat way to finish a quality set.
Weapon were part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement and almost hit the big time back in 1981 after supporting Motorhead on the 'Aces Up Your Sleeve' tour. Unfortunately for them their album was never released at the time and were only remembered for many years for a double A-Side single. However with a renewed interest in the NWOBHM scene Weapon are back and mean business.
The free publicity machine has also been working in Weapon's favour too recently with James Hetfield going onstage with Metallica in a patched denim jacket with a large Weapon logo on it and more bizarrely a young girl was asked to remove her shirt by an over zealous security guard at the Olympics Torch relay because the offending girl was wearing a Weapon t-shirt!
Weapon were trying out plenty of new material, opening with the impressive 'Ride The Moriah', a building anthem with an Arabic vibe.
Other newies like 'Ready 4 U' is a simplistic but effective rocker, 'Blood Soaked Rock' is a bit of a tongue twister to sing along to after a few bevvies and the R in Rock can be misinterpreted for a C which isn't so easy to swallow, but 'Celebration Day' is another enjoyable rocker proving there is a lot to look forward to from the forthcoming new Weapon release.
The new boys in the band provide a very solid rhythm with drummer Ian Sweeting almost hidden behind his kit and PJ Phillips laying down some heavy chunky lines. Cheeky singer Danny Hynes has the grace of a loveable rogue who gets away with saying "One size fits all" when a larger than life lady joins him on stage in a Weapon t-shirt.
Guitarist Jeff Summers is living the dream once again throwing all the right shapes and poses. A ripping former glory, 'Set The Stage Alight', ended the night in which Weapon proved they can really hit the target when they want to.
A stonking great night out with bar prices that leave you enough change in your pocket to check out the merchandise. Unfortunately 'One Size Fits All' underpants were not for sale.
Heavy Metal Kids
Blow It All Away
Hit The Right Button
Blue Eyed Boy
The Cops Are Coming
She's No Angel
We Gotta Go
Ride The Mariah
Fountain Of Paradise
Ready 4 U
Its' A Mad Mad World
Blood Soaked Rock
Take The Bottle Away
Set The Stage Alight