Belatedly, the word seems to be spreading in the UK about young Swedish melodic rock sensations H.E.A.T. Their reputation and talent was not matched by barely three figure turnouts at their London shows at the Underworld and the Gaff three or four years ago, despite the buzz about them on the ‘scene’. Arriving at the Borderline I was expecting another sparse crowd of diehards, but was shocked to see the place packed to the rafters.
This was H.E.A.T.’s first UK tour in support of their third album ‘Address the Nation’ and the first with new singer Erik Gronwall. While opinions differ as to their respective vocal abilities, there is no doubt he has a far livelier and more charismatic manner than his predecessor Kenny Lekremo, givig the band a more energetic dimension.
However, eagerly anticipating this gig after they were among the very best acts of the previous weekend’s HRH AOR festival, I was disappointed for a long time. There was a menacing edge to some of the crowd, with a large number of rowdy young glam fans with spectacular, view-restricting haircuts, some of them taking their attitude and aggression too far.
The other problem was a loud, raw sound which totally smothered the bands hooks and melodies, which I was struggling to make out through the din as they opened with Breaking the Silence and Better off Alone from the new album and songs like Straight for Your Heart and Late Night Lady suffered dramatically.
Fortunately as the gig wore on things settled down and the Bon Jovi style chorus of Heartbreaker was irresistible, while the more laid back In and Out of Trouble had a cool eighties vibe to it that would not have been out of place on a movie soundtrack.
Living on the Run was another commercial gem from the new album with its catchy hooks, while we also got a couple of songs that had been missing from their HRH set at Rotherham set- first album classic Never Let Go, with its Bad Medicine-isms, and the – by their standards- more musically adventurous Who Will Stop the Rain closing the set.
Another song omitted from HRH began the encores, Here for You with the guitar intro catchier than most bands can manage even with lyrics. It’s All About Tonight, which has a great groove to it, proved a fitting encore although it was disappointing that Keep On Dreaming - perhaps their classic anthem - was due to be played but omitted because of time constraints.
This was not perhaps the best night to witness H.E.A.T.’s talent, but when they return it will surely be in bigger and better appointed venues and there was enough to demonstrate they are standards bearers for a new generation of melodic rock inspired by the greats of the eighties but with a freshness all of their own.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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