The rock and roll bus rides into town tonight with not one but four great bands. Big guns Skid Row are joined by hard rock glamsters Backyard Babies, you could think this is a nostalgia trip of the 80s but keeping it fresh is Sweden’s’ H.E.A.T and UK band Vega, who bring the rock and roll party to this awesome line-up.
VEGA – There’s an excitement in the air as I arrive at an already full venue. It’s not sold out but I’m impressed with the crowd turnout. Vega is already into their set, so I missed the aptly titled opener Lets have fun tonight which sounds the perfect song to get everyone warmed up and we need warming up as the venue is cold, it’s not like the O2 to skimp on the heating! Described as melodic rock Vega have more than a middle of the road sound, vocalist Nick Worman, blasts outs the notes and the crowd are appreciative of their efforts. With key synths getting up a buzz and hook-in chorus’ to sing along to, it’s not long before they have to say goodbye with set closer Saving Grace.
Band Info https://www.vegaofficial.co.uk/
H.E.A.T is next on stage all the way from Sweden but they’re no stranger to the UK as they’ve played many times over the last few years. Their mix of AOR rock has a hard edge to it. It’s all about tonight shows us their proficiency as a band, they certainly don’t have anything to prove, as the crowd lap it up in spades! Singer Erik Grönwall is proud to be supporting for Skid Row and fellow Swedes Backyard Babies as he tells the fans, it’s because of Skid Row, he loves rock and roll! Creating an electric atmosphere H.E.A.T bounce off their own vibe and Erik headbangs, dances about the stage and makes funny faces to the front row as he makes a few welcome trips to the ecstatic fans on the barrier! During their song Beg Beg Beg they mash it up with a medley of parts from AC/DC’s Whole Lotta Rosie and Janis Joplin’s Piece of my Heart. Erik wraps up with some words of wisdom ”keep smiling, life is good” as the band bring their set to a close with a Shot of Redemption.
Band Info https://www.heatsweden.com/
HEAT singer Erik Grönwall by Alex English
BACKYARD BABIES Are the main support act tonight with a notable 13 song setlist. Their fans have made their way to the front. I like it when fans give way to the other band’s fans so they can appreciate the show. A cool fact I discovered about the band is that Peder Carlsson, Johan Blomquist, Dregen and Nicke Borg were all born in the same year and same town, Nässjö, southern Sweden in 1973. After getting back together, there is no stopping this infectious band with their clever riffs and anthemic choruses that will whirl around in your head for days after the gig. Shovin Rocks being one of those songs, you’ll be wondering why you keep singing ‘rock and roll’ over and over again!
Wearing a woollen scarf around his neck, singer Nicke has a cold. As he explains it’s cold here but it’s colder in Sweden. Favourites Look at you and Nomadic gets everyone bouncing before they slow things down. Taking a break the band leaves the stage. Returning is Dregan the main guitarist, who is also a big draw to the band for the fans. Effortlessly cool he takes to stage with his acoustic guitar and with Nicke, they perform a Song for the outcast and Roads, which Dregan describes like a Dogs D’Amour song.
Backyard Babies sum up themselves perfectly with Th1rt3en or Nothing their last single from 2015. If they go straight to hell, I think they’ll be having one hell of a party down there. Tonight, they proved that rock and roll ain’t dead, especially on a Wednesday evening Sheffield.
Band Info –http://backyardbabies.com/
Setlist – https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/backyard-babies/2019/o2-academy-sheffield-england-4b95af8a.html
SKID ROW The New Jersey rockers have a new slinger with them, vocalist ZP Theart ex-DragonForce, who’s been an official member since 2017. Who’d have thought the hard rock metallers would stand the testament of time, 32 years to be precise. Their Fans have come out in force and it’s good to see, especially as the band played Manchester last night, and some fans have returned for another night of rock and roll mayhem.
ZP has a terrific vocal range and brings new life to the songs written by founding members Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan. Blasting off with Slave to the grind they tear through Skid Row classics Big Guns and 18 & Life, you could say some of the fans here tonight have been in it since 18 or before then? I’m impressed as ZP hits those top notes, he has a good interaction with the crowd and teases them if they are too quiet between songs, asking ‘are you still out there?’ As he held his hand to his ear, to receive a deafening shrill of ‘yeah’s’ back from the audience.
From their B-Sides Ourselves album, bassist, Rachel takes the vocals for their cover of Ramones track Psycho Therapy, an immense punk rocking number that he screeches to a climactic end and gets an explosion of applause in return. Bolan tells us he is a huge fan of the UK and of one band, in particular, Def Leppard. He loves coming here to play with his band as they always receive a great response from the fans each time.
Taking to the stage Dave Sabo picks up on the Def Leppard story, to which he recounts an early band encounter they had with Def Leppard, which showed a young Skid Row, humility and gratitude. 32 years on he thanks Def Leppard for that lesson and also thanks all the fans tonight for being loyal supporters of what they do, because they couldn’t do it without them! Sabo introduces the timeless power ballad I remember you on his acoustic guitar. I’m sure I spotted a few hankies in the crowd during that epic performance.
Encoring for We are the Damned, they also played Ghost and Forever which ZP said they hadn’t played for a while. Releasing giant beach ball size balloons into the audience, the fans go crazy to the Skid Row anthem and closer Youth Gone Wild.
Personally, I can’t wait for the big guns to return and play us more of their classic hits and more.
SKID ROW Setlist https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/skid-row/2019/o2-academy-sheffield-england-5395af95.html
Band INFO – https://www.skidrow.com/