It’s been thirteen years since I started working for Get Ready to ROCK! and, during that time, I have had the pleasure of reviewing many London shows – yet, I have to admit that I didn’t know that the Bush Hall even existed prior to the evening of the 18th of July. The reason why I made the long journey to the west of the capital? The unique opportunity to enjoy a double headline bill by NWOBHM legends Diamond Head and Vardis – the latter performing their first London show after a thirty year period of inactivity although reforming in 2014.
Having shared my ever-building excitement and a few words with fellow fans, most of which were much older than I, while waiting in the not so long queue, I made my way inside only to find out that the Bush Hall is one of the most picturesque little venues I have ever visited. Red carpets, chandeliers, theatre-style bar serving proper beer…one could not help but feel comfortable in those surroundings.
Fairly relaxed and adequately refreshed, I braced myself for the first band of the night – the mighty Diamond Head. It was dead on eight o’clock that Brian Tatler and Co hit the relatively small but nicely arranged stage of the Bush Hall and one could tell, moments after the first few notes of the much love “Borrowed Time” were performed, that the Midland quintet was one well-oiled war machine.
Though Rasmus Bom Anderson’s vocals were quite low on the mix at the start of the show, half way through the head-banging newbie “Bones” all sound-related issues were addressed and the band was finally able to showcase what a ‘tour de force’ they are on a live setting.
A natural-born leader, Brian Tatler often found himself centre stage, offering blistering solos as in the case of “Lightning To The Nations” or building up the groove with his mighty riffs in “To Heaven From Hell”. Hardcore Diamond Head fans never quite got over Sean Harris’ departure from the band back in 2004 but even they would have approved of Anderson’s stage antics during “To The Devil His Due/In The Heat Of The Night” and “Shoot Out The Lights” – the latter finding the crowd rhythmically clapping its hands to the song’s opening riff.
I cannot say much about how the band behaved on stage during either the performance of “It’s Electric” or “Sucking My Love” as I spent most of my time head banging to their most welcoming tunes and, though I was inclined to do the same during “The Prince”, my eyes were firmly focused on Eddie Moohan who performed one of the most impressive bass themes of the evening.
One cannot have a Diamond Head show without the all-time classic “Am I Evil?” and it was the very same Metallica-approved anthem which completed the band’s set for the night – a set that would have also included my personal favourite “Helpless” had time been on the band’s side.
I have to admit that Vardis is a band I had very limited knowledge of prior to getting access to their latest EP “200M.P.H” four or so days prior to tonight’s show, but the quality of the five Boogie/Hard Rock compositions featured there was enough to convince me that attending this show would be a really good idea indeed.
Though far less musically diverse than Diamond Head, the music of Vardis is characterized by the type of Rock’n’Roll honesty that I find quite inviting. Opening with the up-tempo “The Lion’s Share” and following up with the equally dynamic “Radio Rockers”, the trio initially came across as slightly nervous but by the moment the bombastic “Move Along” made its much-welcomed presence Steve Zodiac was at the top of his game and the band was truly on fire.
The same crowd that was fairly apathetic towards Diamond Head earlier on really came alive during songs like “Situation Negative” and “Jolly Roger”, the latter introduced by a smiley Zodiac frantically waving a pirate flag.
“Dirty Money” and “Gary Glitter Pt.1” were straight forward Rock’n’Rollers that came alive by Terry Horbury’s warm and finely performed bass lines and I, or one, was quite pleased to have Steve Zodiac dedicating “The World’s Insane” to my long suffering country half way through the band’s set.
Elongated guitar solos can be quite enjoyable, when used in moderation, but tonight excess was the order of the day, as suggested by the way “Shoot Straight” and “Loser” were performed by the trio.
The band’s main set was concluded by a rousing performance of “Let’s Go”, a composition introduced by Steve Zodiac with the words “you might remember this one” and the three noisemakers returned on stage to perform a storming bass-led rendition of “King” – a fast and dynamic piece that offered a fitting conclusion to a very enjoyable evening.
This show was a pretty successful affair in many different ways. The decision not to include an opening band of lesser quality/pedigree gave both headlining acts the opportunity to perform lengthier sets – a fact much appreciated by the fans of both bands.
Diamond Head had enough time to prove why the title ‘legend’, bestowed to them by fans and fellow-musicians alike, has been much deserved while Vardis proved that there is a good reason why they chose to come together again after a thirty year hiatus.
A very enjoyable night indeed!
Review by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
Photos by Darran Scott
Diamond Head Set List:
Borrowed Time/ Bones (new song)/ Lightning To The Nations/ To Heaven From Hell/ To The Devil His Due/ In The Heat Of The Night/ Shoot Out The Lights/ It’s Electric/ Sucking My Love/ The Prince/ Am I Evil?
Vardis Set List:
The Lions Share/ Radio Rockers/ Move Along/ Situation Negative/ Jolly Roger/ Dirty Money/ Gary Glitter Pt 1/ The World’s Insane/ Love Is Dead/ Don’t Mess With The Best (‘Cos The Best Don’t Mess)/ Drum Solo/ Mods & Rockers/ Learn How To Shoot Straight
I’m A Loser/ Let’s Go Encore : If I Were King
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.
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