|Diamond Head - Pontypool, Hog And Hosper - 28th June 2012|
|Written by Nev Brooks|
|Tuesday, 10 July 2012 04:00|
Do you know, even as I start to type the title of this review I can't help slipping back into a little bit of retrospection. Back in my early days of gig going I travelled the length and breadth of the country with like-minded mates, sleeping in some very dubious places when for whatever reason we couldn't make it home following the show. All the time the topic for discussion amongst us was to bemoan the fact that there was nowhere remotely close to where we lived putting on gigs.
Nowadays music lovers in our area, (that being Gwent, as was) currently have people out there putting on shows weekly all within walking distance for most of us. Sam at tonight's venue being just one of these (Come on!!! She's put on G.B.H, Ricky Warwick, Dan Reed, James and Scabies and now Diamond Head in the space of just over a year), whilst others just a short drive away at the EVI, and The Steelhouse are doing equally as much for live music in our area (I mean for Aberbeeg to be hosting it's second annual hard rock gathering with bands like Feeder, the Answer, St Jude, Reef would have been the stuff of dreams for a teenage Brooks).
These people need our support out there, not every gig can be a big one, but why not frequent some if not most of them? I already hear the answer, Money!!! But music is as much about the feeling of camaraderie and building up a scene and supporting the not so very well known. Take tonight for example entry to see Diamond Head cost the same as 3 pints in your local, so where were you? Tear yourself away from the X-Factor, The Voice and the likes that are all killing live music by breeding a generation of copy artists and ripping the heart out of local bands and shows, and become a part of something that could build into something great before it's all told late.
Please don't let me be writing in a few years time "I told you so."
Anyway enough of my rant, why I'm here on a Thursday night in Pontypool, is to catch one of my all time fave live bands, Diamond Head (and I still can't quite believe it) who are headlining a three band bill, for as I said earlier and entry fee of around the price of 3 pints in your local. Now that is what I call outstanding value.
First up tonight from nearby Cwmbran are traditional metallers Counterhold, who do a good job for a band still pretty much finding their own sound, they play straight down the line metal, and are well worth catching on their own merits.
Next up the already Uber Rock approved Fell on Black Days, this bunch just keep getting better and better with each live showing, and with their debut album due for release any day soon, the tail end of 2012 promises to be something very special for this five piece from Ebbw Vale. Now if these guys can get a little bit of that aforementioned local scene going and garner some wider media interest then I can't think of any reason why these guys couldn't follow the Revoker route onwards and upwards to stage much farther a field than simply neighboring valleys. We just all need to believe.
Okay let's not beat around the bush any longer, I came here tonight to see a band that I first witnessed (and was immediately blown away by) back in the early 80's, that band pretty much help set the blueprint for every thrash band that has ever existed, they were also a band that led the punk D.I.Y ethos within the NWOBHM scene, and they were/are a band that deserved to be as huge if not more so than the pale imitations of them that went on to become household names - but that story is for another time. That band is of course the one and only Diamond Head, and whilst the band personnel may have changed since my live induction all those years ago, the driving force of guitarist Brian Tatler is still very much leading from the front, and here in 2012 in "new?" vocalist Nick Tart he has finally found his perfect foil for delivering all the classics of my youth, whilst also presenting some choice new tunes from their last two albums 'All Will Be Reveled' and 'What's In Your Head?' two CD's that should sit in every self-respecting British rock fans collections.
So on to the set, and as soon as the band kicked off with 'Play It Loud' Pontypool's very own answer to Beavis and Butthead, who had seemingly been installed as headknockers on the end of the bar for tonight immediately moved up a few gears in appreciation of the fine NWOBHM riffing on show. I kid you not these guys have come alive and are currently living in the Gwent valleys, I just hope Johnny H got the snap.
This blast from the past was closely followed by the first of the newish tracks and 'Nothing To Lose" (from What's Inside Your Head) fits in just nice up against the classic era stuff, but then it's straight back into my perm days with 'Dead Reckoning' before 'Give It Me (from All Will Be Revealed) suddenly reminds me I shine these days rather than comb.....Hmmmm. The other newies aired tonight, (in a set designed to mix it up a bit ahead of a full set of European shows spread throughout much of July) were 'Prey For Me and 'Drinkin Again', but do you know what? Even in a set chock full of classics, they more than held their own.
And of the classics (in no particular order as they will probably change these before the end of the tour), came the likes of 'In The Heat Of The Night', 'To Heaven From Hell', 'Sucking My Love, 'The Prince', "It's Electric", a shortened version of 'Shoot Out The Lights", before the place went bananas with a closing run through of 'Am I Evil?' And we got all of that before the encore!!! For which we got 'Lightning to the Nations' and a stunning full pelt version of 'Helpless'.
Although tonight's show was not empty by any stretch of the imagination, it would be such a shame that through a lack of our own support for local live venues, we made gigs like this a thing of the past. So get off your arses, wherever you live, and get involved with your local live scene, you might just discover a band that you will end up following for the rest of your life, just like me and these guys from Stourbridge all those years previous.
Oh and as a footnote this review I'd say this was probably my sixth or seventh time of seeing Diamond Head live, and I would say it was probably the best I've ever seen them.