@Newcastle O2 Academy 2, May 17 2014
On the balmiest day of the summer Newcastle experienced the burning heart of Sweden’s H.E.A.T for the first time. The super smooth quintet might be four albums into an increasingly promising career but this was their eagerly anticipated Toon debut – cue frenzied scenes and a fired-up crowd.
From the outset it became clear this would be a Saturday night to remember: frontman Erik Gronwall only has two levels of performance – wild and even wilder. This was a golden opportunity to blaze a glory trail in front of a sea of new faces and the former Swedish Idol winner didn’t fluff his big chance.
H.E.A.T’s latest long player, the harder-edged yet commercially-driven Tearing Down The Walls, boasts a raft of beefed up party rock anthems and chief among them is the brooding title track – a slow-burning call-to-arms that exploded into life after the opening chorus.
Made for arenas – and after following the careers of fellow Stockholm favourites Europe for so many years that’s exactly where this band want to be – H.E.A.T’s only problem was finding enough space to express themselves. Retro-styled guitar hero Eric Rivers channeled his inner Bettencourt to glorious effect and peaked on the excellent Emergency while keys man Jona Tee reinforced his reputation as the new Mic Michaeli (even down to the dodgy headwear).
Gronwall’s pitch perfect delivery on fist-pumping favourites Point Of No Return, In And Out Of Trouble and Inferno fanned the flames and the man who romped to reality TV victory on the back of Skid Row, Maiden and Kiss looked every inch the bastard spawn of the Sunset Strip.
How on earth H.E.A.T haven’t already graduated to far bigger venues in the UK is a constant puzzle but right now it seems anywhere will do for a band still content to pay its dues. Ninety minutes of heavenly hard rock for seven quid seemed like the biggest steal of the decade and where so many bands promise to hit the merch stand within minutes of the encore ending H.E.A.T actually delivered – proving their sales technique is just as polished as their musicianship.
Reckless Love might have stolen a march on their fellow Scandinavians while Brit bands Jettblack, The Treatment and BlackWolf continue to blaze a trail for high octane party rock. But on this evidence H.E.A.T can trump them all.
Exclusive Pic courtesy of Mick Burgess