Review by Peter Keevil. Photos by Lisa Billingham
Heaven’s Basement began touring their debut album, Filthy Empire back in September 2012 in this very room. Then they were main support to Halestorm, tonight they returned to headline and sold it out with weeks to spare. Back then my colleague, Mark Lloyd, reviewed the Nottingham date of that tour and like the soothsayer he is, stated that it would be an interesting 12 months for Heavens Basement. He was not wrong.
Heaven’s Basement are on a roll… backed by a very able record company in Red Bull Records, a label that believes in them. And in these days of Pledge Music and DIY releases it is so refreshing to see that a record label can still do what they are supposed to – to develop an artist and challenge an artist to grow.
Because of that HB are now 10-foot taller than when they were last in Town, and not just because of those little front stage boxes that all bands seem to have nowadays. This was THEIR show, they were the lead attraction, the headliners. This was THEIR 1,000-strong crowd and the confidence that bestowed oozed from every pore.
And it’s the breadth and diversity of that audience that indicates to me that HB have the chance to be a real contender. From the front railings, to the merch stand at the back, the age range of this audience seemed to get older. Young girls down the front, wilting at every flick of Sid Glovers’ shaggy mane; shoulder to shoulder with young stags, ready to mix it up in the moshpit at the merest mention by master-of-ceremonies, Aaron Buchanan.
Then as you move back away from stage front you see the ages begin to increase; the hair follicles getting challenged but the spare income enough to meet the highest of Academy beer prices. These are the fans who have been with HB before the apostrophe, back when they were a classic rock band but fans that still find much to love now that they have punked it up a bit for the kids.
That breadth is what has brought Heaven’s Basement up through the ranks… that and oodles of dedication and talent, of course.
HB powered through a 75 minute set that rolled as much as it rocked. That pogo’ed and swayed in equal measure. Aaron is now a ‘frontman’, an MC that is more than comfortable stage-front. And despite this being well into a hard-driven multi-date tour, he cuts it as a live vocalist, whether thrashing it out in the breathless, ‘I Am Electric’ or with the impassioned sonnet, ‘The Price We Pay’.
He can also engage, as he does with his usual ‘crowd walking’ set-piece. But I fear for him as he keeps having to raise the ante when it comes to crowd surfing. Typically he has ‘crowd-walked’, balancing upon the shoulders of the eager audience he has impressively traversed the length of venues across the country. Now he has upped it again. Now, he spies a healthy male specimen in the crowd and nominates him as his ‘base’ for a mid-crowd handstand. The young man in question tonight proved an able foil and sees Aaron upside-down doing handstand-splits on his shoulders! Where he takes this next, as the venues continue to grow, will make any health and safety man call in for back-up.
From the opening refrains of ‘Welcome Home’ to the closing echoes of ‘Executioners Day’, Heaven’s Basement were quite simply on Fire Fire.
1. Welcome Home
2. Can’t Let Go
3. Fire Fire
4. Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch
5. Straight To Hell
6. Nothing Left To Lose
7. I Am Electric
9. The Price We Pay
10. Jump Back
11. Reign On My Parade
12. Jumping Jack Flash
13. Executioners Day