SWEET (Live)

At The Sage, Gateshead, U.K., December 12, 2019

SWEET (Live at The Sage, Gateshead, U.K., December 12, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

While the polling stations were their busiest in years with a cross in the box deciding the fate of the nation, life beyond the ballot box went on. What better distraction while anxiously awaiting the result than an hour or two in the presence of Glam Rock royalty, Sweet.

After last year’s hugely successful appearance at the Wylam Brewery, there wasn’t long to wait for a swift return from Sweet and they certainly did not disappoint.

Despite them never having a Christmas hit, it seemed like there was a real festive party spirit in the air. Maybe that was partially due to the expansive array of hits aired over the course of the night with no fewer than eight Top 10 singles and a Number One smash. How could they possibly fail with the heads down romp of opener, Action and the Glam classics Blockbuster, Hell Raiser, Wig Wam Bam, Teenage Rampage, Love Is Like Oxygen and Fox On The Run? Every last one of them honey coated gems.

There’s so much more to Sweet than Glam Rock anthems. Underneath the glitter and platforms was a living, breathing leather clad Hard Rock band. Digging into the album tracks and B-sides reveals a totally different side to the band that was such a staple on Top Of The Pops throughout the ’70s. Set Me Free with its Deep Purple powered riff, the heavy weight Turn It Down, from the supreme desolation Boulevard album and the foot to the floor Rocker AC/DC could more than match any of their peers.

Since their last appearance in Newcastle, original guitarist Andy Scott recruited vocalist Paul Manzi from Cats In Space and Ian Small from Lionheart on bass and vocals along with guitarist/keyboardist Steve Mann, currently with Michael Schenker Group. Such strong additions reinforced Sweet’s Hard Rock credentials tenfold over the previous incarnation.

Manzi was a revelation on vocals. Powerful, melodic with a pleasing gritty edge to his voice doing great justice to the original Brian Connolly parts while Small too excelled with his vocal contributions. Their trademark four-part vocal harmonies were impeccable throughout the night particularly on Love Is Like Oxygen.

Closing with Blockbuster and Ballroom Blitz could only have one result, a delighted crowd and an hour and a half of pure escapism. Job done.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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