Review By Paul Quinton
After their triumphant performance at HRH AOR the previous Sunday, H.E.A.T. continued their string of UK gigs at the Queens Hall in Nuneaton and, considering it was midweek, attracted a pretty healthy crowd.
A local band, Curran, were the support (and if I’ve got that wrong, I do apologise, but there was no one at the venue who could give me the correct information) and very lively they were too, working really hard in an effort to gain a reaction from the steadily growing crowd. They have some decent songs of their own, melodic rock with a modern tint, but it took a couple of covers, Bob Seger’s Rosalie, later covered by Thin Lizzy of course, and Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, to really get the crowd going. All in all, a decent band who did a fair job in warming the crowd up for the headliners.
The previous weekend, H.E.A.T. had turned in one of the very best sets of the whole weekend at HRH AOR in Rotherham, full of good songs, enthusiasm and, above all, were able to get across their sheer pleasure in playing for the crowd. In a lot of ways, they did exactly the same at this gig, and the Queens Hall crowd responded with a will. This tour was the first proper chance UK fans had had to see new singer Eric Gronwall in action, and, apart from the music, he was a major part of getting the crowd so involved in the show. He’s an absolute dynamo on stage, never still, even when singing, and during instrumental breaks seems compelled to jump on the spot or even spin around with his arms outstretched, just from the sheer exuberance of being on stage.
As ever one of the band’s great strengths is their songs. Like a lot of Swedish bands, they seem to have an infallible eye for a great hook, and the newer songs from the latest album, ‘Address The Nation’ fit into the set seamlessly. They played something from all three of their albums, opening with two new ones, ‘Breaking The Silence’ and ‘Better Off Alone’, before playing several older songs, including ‘1000 Miles’, which I suspect is probably the first time a Eurovision entry has been played by the original artist in the Queens Hall, and ‘Beg, Beg, Beg’, which became Led Zep’s ‘Rock and Roll’ after a brief crowd singalong.
It’s not just the excellent material that makes this band a bit special, they are a genuinely fine live act, and if there are solos, they’re usually kept short and the emphasis is always on the songs. The band so clearly love what they’re doing and this mood is put over to the crowd, who can’t help but be swept up in the atmosphere and are only too willing to join, whether clapping along or joining in on the highly infectious choruses. They also give value for money, this gig was a remarkably cheap £8.00 on the door and the band played for over 100 minutes in all, including a tremendous three song encore, which included a couple of their best songs, ‘There For You’ and ‘Keep On Dreaming’, plus a song from the new album, ‘It’s All About Tonight’.
So why, with all this wonderfulness, would you have gone away from the gig feeling slightly dissatisfied? To put it bluntly, from our vantage point, the sound was horrible. I was told that right at the front, no doubt with the benefit of hearing something from the backline, it was much better, but a little further back much of it was an awful, distorted mess. Eric Gronwall was inaudible whenever the whole band were playing, and Jona Tee’s keyboards might just as well have not been there except during the vocal and piano duet of ‘Make It To The End’. What makes it worse is that the sound was fine for Curran, and it seems as if whoever was responsible for the sound just shoved all the faders into the red for the main act and left it there. A real pity for a band whose very essence is hook and melody. The band played their socks off, and this could have been one of the gigs of the year, so it’s a shame that it was just a case of ‘What might have been?’