Vega + Night By Night + Degreed @ Rock City, Nottingham – 3 November 2012

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Review by Harry Paterson and photos by Sean Larkin

Whatever one might wish to say regarding their truly awful name, such epithets would be entirely inappropriate applied to Degreed’s live show. In the flesh, the Swedish quintet is little short of excellent. Certainly, if tonight’s stellar opening slot is typical.

Crunchingly heavy, when required, but satisfyingly melodic, the band has the potential to cross genres and the respectable Rock City crowd warmed instantly to their committed and polished display.

Song intros were very much at a premium so one could only assume the bulk of the set was drawn from their 2010 debut, “Life, Love, Loss,” the acquisition of which now assuming something of a priority.

7/10

It seems all is not as well as it ought to be in the Night By Night camp. The official reason for frontman, Daniel Rosso’s absence was given as “illness” by guitarist and tonight’s temporary frontman, Ben Christo. A source in the know, however, put it rather more bluntly: “He’s away for the weekend with his family. Seems to think he can pick and choose which gigs to turn up for.” Oh…

That being said, it made no discernible impact on the quality of tonight’s performance. Obviously, those trademark three-part harmonies, usually delivered with pin-point accuracy and no small degree of class, were reduced to two-part but retained their accuracy and class. The band rocked on regardless.

Their growing, and well-earned, reputation rests on three factors; firstly, they’ve successfully taken the Classic Rock template and given it an effective and distinctive contemporary makeover, the resulting songs sounding fresh, relevant and surprisingly now. Also, their live presentation is slick, polished and professional. No backing tapes, no gimmicks and, when Rosso turns up, those three-part harmonies add a degree of finesse and style. Finally, unafraid to get a littler dirt under the fingernails, they rock hard and rock well. And so it proved again this evening.

The crowd, nicely warmed-up by Degreed, responded warmly and the band was met with appreciative roars which, it has to be said, were no less than their well-earned due. Yes, Night By Night is a fine act and deserve to go much further with Christo, looking not unlike a younger Stephen Pearcy, earning tonight’s man-of-the-match award for his assured and competent holding-operation. Frankly, if this is what they can produce without Rosso, one doubts they’d starve if the “weekend away with the family” assumed a more permanent status.

Tonight they came, they saw and they conquered.

8/10

Headliners Vega had something of a task to accomplish following their predecessors and, the regular four-piece augmented by a brace of additional guest musicians, set about the challenge with vigour and confidence.

Along with the excellent Serpentine, Vega represents something of a spearhead for classy UK melodic hard rock and tonight they didn’t disappoint.

Frontman, Nick Workman, is a likeable and endearing presence and armed with a thoroughly first-rate voice he was, frankly, excellent. By the end of the set there wasn’t a bead of sweat marring his brow nor a hair out of place. Sickening, as well as remarkable, given his committed and enthusiastic contribution.

If the material seems often to rely on ‘woah, woah, woah’ refrains, in a live setting it only adds to the fun with the degree of crowd participation noticeably substantial. “Stay With Me” being a particularly apposite example, ditto “Not There For You.”

This was glorious stuff and the good-time vibe was positively palpable; uplifting, ecstatic and soaring. Very fine indeed with the band delivering, both individually and collectively, flawless performances, all aided by a welcomingly clear front-of-house sound.

New single, “White Knuckle Ride, from forthcoming second album, “What The Hell” demonstrated “Kiss Of Life” was no fluke and it shimmered, shone and glistened with real beauty. Like Night By Night, there’s nothing retro or recycled about Vega’s material and real gems like “Into The Wild” and “Headlights” showcased their undeniable talent and relevance to 2012.

A superb close-out to a superb evening, how could anyone not love Vega?

9/10

And you can see more photos from the show here: