Upon stepping out onto that KK’s Steel Mill stage, bands fall into two categories. One type looks bewildered and thinks, we don’t need all that space. The others are the ones whose faces light up with glee, then chomp at the bit to unleash nuclear levels of energy across every single inch of that 5-a-side-sized space. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the foot to the floor, 111 mph rock ‘n’ roll show that is The Hot One Two.
The Hot One Two
KK’s Steel Mill – 12 May 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: John Inglis
This Cambridgeshire Quintet are no stranger to the West Midlands, with this being their sixth visit in 11 months. Best described as high energy, turbocharged, swaggering rock ‘n’ roll, which fuses the weight and pizazz of AC/DC, GNR, Velvet Revolver and other ’80s titans together with the modern punch and harmonies of the likes of Stone Broken, At The Sun and even Gin Annie. On second thoughts, make that VERY High Energy.
Their entrance was typically electric with the dynamic Playing With Fire. The repeating refrain and percussive pattern certainly get the heads nodding from the off. Combined with the intricate riffing, perfectly placed chorus punctuating ‘HEY’s!, but as for that later bridge, “You owe it to yourself. It’s all your worth and more. You look towards the light now, you open up the door.” Take a deep breath, cast your head back and bellow those words skyward.
Settling into their tempo with the spleen-venting, Bleed On Me saw the ‘Whirling Dervish’, mesmeric rhythm guitarist Kev, errrrr, jolly well whirl. Praise be for wireless guitar systems otherwise things could have gone south very quickly. Being bitter has never been so catchy and fun.
Latest release and recent Planet Rock Track of the Week The Fray followed. Another frenetic, ton-plus gallop with such perfect pitch and masses of power in Simon’s vocals. No idea what the BPM was, but drummer Joe was sure putting in a shift. The pace perfectly symbolised and matched the lyrical theme of the chaos of warfare and the resultant psychological effects on this survivor. “The price you pay, never over, never over. Death be my friend today.”
“You guys will know this. This is an old one,” introduced Rolling Stoned a Guns n’ razor-riffed anthem with the midfield trio switching formation to indulge in some Priest style 16 String Synchronised Choreography up front. This is the stuff. This is what they want.
“This one is off the (forthcoming) new album and is called Is It Hot?” “Yes, it fucking is!!!” was the brusque response from the drum stool. Understandable after this workout. Any respite from delivering that relentless aural assault must have been so welcoming.
This, however, was a glorious slice of late ’80s Sleaze Metal underpinned by a shuffling bass and adrenalised groove. Tell you what, let’s have some more of the 16 String Shape Shifting Shenanigans and why not. This is rock ‘n’ roll, after all, and should be all about entertainment.
Introducing the final number, Tie Me Down, Simon paid the appropriate respects and invited the audience to join him in that simple chorus. “Let’s get those singing voices warmed up for Gin Annie.” If it was not already evident, hearing him broadcast that refrain acapella reiterated the range and sheer power of his voice. How does one learn to sing like that? Obviously, with the benefit of the PA, but just his solo was more voluminous than the audience. As they say, ‘What a set of pipes.’
In what seemed like a few minutes, the half-hour set ended. One is left breathless. While this all too brief support slot necessitates the requirement to just go for it, one wonders at what state the audience and, indeed, the band will be in after a headline performance. That is something I would like to experience.
The Hot One Two – catch them in Twenty-Three. Highly likely you will do so at a festival this summer as they are an impressive addition to any bill. One cannot help but be swept along by their infectious exuberance, not to mention bangin’ tuneage. Those of you who caught Kickin’ Valentina in such circumstances last summer will be left with the same kind of memory and I’m feeling positive.
As Neil once said, “What a beautiful noise.”