DIAMOND HEAD / KILLIT / FRAGILE THINGS - Crauford Arms 16.10.18
PHOTO CREDITS: JON THEOBALD PHOTOGRAPHY
It may have been “a convenient halfway point between band members for a gig”, joked FRAGILE THINGS frontman Richie Hevanz, but what was true was the early Craufurd Arms audience were hungry for the opening band after a two year absence.
Kicking off with ‘Echo Chambers’ the title track from their debut EP, the bandana-d Richie, prowled the stage drawing the audience ever closer to the barrier “now we can have a f**king proper gig” he announced. Drummer Hugo Bowman kept a steady, flamboyant rhythm during ‘Pick Your Poison’ which nicely led into ‘Wickerman’. Planet Rock playlist single ‘Disappear’ was next, much to the delight of the crowd who sang along with as many voices as they could muster.
Lead guitarist Mark Hanlon, picked the opening notes to the track ‘Monster’, a new song which Richie described as “the first of lots of stuff in the pipeline”. With a short but solid opening set drawing to a close, it was left to bassist Steve Lathwell to pluck the start of ‘Broken Sun’ (title track of the second EP) and the rest of the band kicked into the final song. As the first band of three tonight, FRAGILE THINGS certainly delivered enough to warm up the Tuesday night crowd, many of whom will hope it’s not another two years before they see them again.
If a two-drum kit stage isn’t crowded enough for a support slot, KILLIT - the five-piece multi-national band from London, filled the front of the stage with vocalist Gaz Twist, guitarists Niro Knox and Claire Genoud and bassist Ben Smart all in a row. Opening with the unreleased track ‘Love is the Chemical’ is a risky move but the band have some new material they want to play since the release of their debut LP ‘Shut It Down’ in 2016 and the lineup changes that have seen Claire and bassist Ben join the band.
Original tracks ‘Take the Power’ and ‘Ain’t Playing Your Game’ see Claire, a striking presence in her 6-inch platform heels towering over vocalist Gaz, trading riffs with Niro and adding a different tone to the chorus vocals. Newly released single ‘Waiting For The Day’ is next up, its catchy bass line hopefully ensuring airplay for this newer lineup of a band that’s barely three years old.
Gaz alternates between displaying his vocal strength and playing third (air) guitar with Niro during the set, obviously enjoying the hard rock sound that he and the rest of the band deliver. Niro strikes the beginning riffs for LP title track ‘Shut It Down’ and the band all get their heads down and banging in unison. A slower, pounding pace heralds the start of set staples ‘Dragging Me Down’ and ‘See The End’. Drummer Pete Jean and bassist Ben combine on the opening bars of ‘Don’t Look Back’, whilst Gaz finds the time to mop Ben’s sweaty brow as the heat inside the venue rises with the bpm.
A few bars of Sabbath’s ‘Sweet Leaf’ are worked in towards the end of the track and a great little solo from Claire gives her the opportunity again to shred at the front of the stage. A few audience thank you’s, a call out to local boy Byron who used to be part of the band and it was time for the last track ‘In Over My Head’. With Gaz still working the audience, the rest of the band stepped together and worked up to a mighty finish. Everyone left the stage the same way as they left the audience - hot and happy.
With a stage full of smoke, red lights and ‘Mars’ from Holzt’s ‘Planet’s Suite’ pounding through the PA, DIAMOND HEAD broke up their group huddle at the side of the stage and took their places. A two-year hiatus from the Craufurd Arms seemed to be a recurring theme as vocalist Rasmus grabbed his custom-milled DIAMOND HEAD mic stand and the opening jangling chords of ‘Borrowed Time’ floated out across the audience. After heading straight in to ‘Dead Reckoning’, then rattling through ‘Bones’ and ‘Helpless’, Ras recounted the fact that they’d all forgotten what it was like to “play in this sweatbox of a venue” – but they were pleased that some air conditioning had been installed backstage so the band were only “medium hot”!
After a quick guitar change for lead guitarist and founder member Brian Tattler, Ras started warming the crowd vocals up for some ‘Who-oh-oh-oh’ to help out on ‘In the Heat of the Night’. The promise of some new material “soon” excited many of the faithful as ‘Set My Soul on Fire’ from the last album kicked in, followed closely by ‘Call Me’. Drummer Karl Wilcox in his second stint in the band kept everyone in place with a solid rhythm amply demonstrating his years of experience. The audience were tested now, Ras throwing down the challenge to the DIAMOND HEAD Army that the best audience on the tour so far were Aberdeen – even if he couldn’t understand a word they were saying! The Milton Keynes crowd accepted and suitably upped the decibel count through ‘To Heaven from Hell’ and ‘Lightning to the Nations’.
Newer track ‘Diamonds’ from the last album was next, followed by ‘Shoot Out the Lights’ – the tempo, heat and volume rising with every song. With the crowd anticipating the end of the set, ‘It’s Electric’ made way for ‘The Prince’ with Ras saying that sometimes he’d like a band mascot but as they bring the black Lord – The Prince of Darkness – along to every set maybe that would have to do. The crowd’s favourite was the last song of the set, their voices chorusing in unison ‘Am I Evil?’ loud enough to satisfy Rasmus that they had earned their place in the DH army.
A few minutes left before the curfew meant that the band returned to the stage and delivered ‘Sucking My Love’ as an unplanned extra song to the set, a brief nod that even in the era of the NWOCR, the ‘old hands’ bands from the NWOBHM still have what it takes to deliver... and more.
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