Vega are certainly putting in the hard yards to capitalise on their excellent new album ‘Only Human’ with arguably the UK’s leading contemporary melodic rock band playing an extensive tour, culminating in this London date. While they have yet to achieve the popularity their arena-worthy anthems deserve, encouragingly this was their biggest attendance yet for a headline London show.
It was also a double bill of the finest melodic rock with a fine support slot from Midnite City, led by current Tigertailz singer Rob Wylde, which may have accounted for a few of the extra punters. Working the crowd energetically, glammy long hair blowing behind him as the Underworld’s air conditioning did its job, he was a charismatic frontman and the whole band had plenty of movement on stage.
Comparisons abounded to the likes of Danger Danger, notably in the playing style of guitarist Miles Meakin which reminded me very much of Rob Marcello, early Bon Jovi and Trixter among others, with catchy if not especially original songs with plenty of ‘who-ohas’.
The only down sides was that the sound was initially muddy and at times there seemed to be a little too much going on, both musically and on the cramped stage. Nevertheless the likes of opener ‘We Belong’, ‘Ghosts Of Our Friends’ and ‘One Step Away’ were excellent slices of feel good melodic rock.
The only ballad ‘Everything You Meant To Me’ even had people spontaneously waving their hands in the air and they closed with what some friends of mine have already adopted as an anthem, ‘Summer Of Our Lives’, even if it was too close for comfort to Bon Jovi’s ‘Story Of My Life’.
My only regret was being unfamiliar with the material which I swiftly rectified by buying the CD at the merch stall, and was told that encouragingly a second is also shortly on the way.
Vega opened in heavier than usual fashion with the opening songs from their last two albums in ‘Let’s Have Fun Tonight’ and ‘Explode’, both brash and swaggering with guitarist Marcus Thurston’s fast fingered fretwork giving their pop sheen a more metallic edge.
While Nick Workman was his usual confident, spring-heeled self, having the crowd hanging on his every word, the biggest change from previous occasions I’ve seen Vega was how he was far from the only source of energy on stage. Both Marcus and bassist Tom Martin were more animated than usual and rhythm guitarist Mikey Kew was an extrovert man transformed – as well as providing some excellent vocal support.
Whether through being the last night of the tour, a hot Saturday night, or delight at England’s win over Sweden that afternoon which inevitably got a few references, there was a definite party atmosphere in the air.
Big-chorused songs like ‘What The Hell’ – with the largest ‘hey-hey’s since Bon Jovi’s ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ – and ‘Every Little Monster’, and established live favourites like ‘Stereo Messiah’ and ‘Gonna Need Some Love Tonight’ nestled comfortably alongside some impressive new songs.
‘Mess You Made’ and ‘Worth Dying For’ came over particularly well and ‘Come Back Again’ was the one ballad of the set. While a couple of song choices in ‘Wonderland’ and ‘Saviour’ did not really do it for me, the likes of debut album favourite ‘Kiss Of Life’ and ‘White Flag’ demanded jumping in the air.
Their confidence in the ‘Only Human’ material was shown by the fact that, as the 10 o’clock curfew neared and they played through without an encore, two of the last three songs were new, with ‘Fade Away’ having a strong feel of Def Leppard or Bryan Adams in his Mutt Lange-phase, and ‘Last Man Standing’, dedicated to their fans, closing the set, albeit interrupted by an untimely drum problem.
In between however came the song that has become their live tour de force, ‘Saving Grace’ (which should perhaps have been dedicated to Jordan Pickford), with Nick leading a chant of ‘yay-yay-yay–oh’ that is made for stadia rather than basement clubs.
It all completed a feel good evening in every sense with both bands giving conclusive proof that the once stagnant UK melodic rock scene is alive and well, if somewhat smaller than it deserves to be.
Review and Photos by Andy Nathan
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 2 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 4 August 2020.
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