Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Adrian Hextall
Swedish rock/pop band are back in London tonight promoting third album Relaunch II, which again provides a mix of covers (6) and brand new tracks (4) from the band. The tiny venue is reasonably full tonight (the rest of the London crowd are at The Underworld to watch The Treatment sadly pulling people away from this gig) and for those who arrive early enough, they are treated to two additional bands from Sweden as well.
First on stage is Big Time, a Swedish Hard rock band formed in 2012 by singer Michael Palace and guitarist Rick Digorio. Later completed by drummer Adrian Qvarfordt and bass guitar player Marc Blomberg. They have already gained reputation as a scorching hot live act on the Swedish rock scene.
Although it’s a short set afforded to the openers, the reception they get is fantastic. They look and sound like ‘Slippery When Wet‘ era Bon Jovi and if you remember that album (and hopefully who doesn’t!) then you’ll know the quality of songs on offer from the band tonight. I’m still unsure as to whether Rick Digorio is wearing a wig on stage tonight as he has the BIGGEST hair I’ve seen on a musician in a long time. It towers above his head like a bearskin as worn by Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Guards! What it does not do however is impede his playing. His soloing and riffing is excellent and is complemented perfectly by Michael Palace’s vocal work.
The reception is so good from the crowd, that there is a call for an encore as the band close their set. The opening act on a three band bill and they get an encore… that says a lot about the quality on offer here. They encore with a great rendition of ‘Stars’ , Ronnie James Dio’s Hear’n’Aid charity single and it rouses the crowd even more who happily join in on the chorus.
A great, great, way to open a show.
Gimme Love, Gimme Fire
Formally known as Sencelled (and what a release that debut album was too!!), The Spin are a four-piece band hailing from Sweden (of course). As they hit the stage they are afforded the best sound of the night with Teddy’s vocals (complimented Blues Brothers style with his old school chrome microphone) sounding crystal clear throughout the set.
Although they hail from Sweden, they seem to gig and tour the UK more than most countries with many recent and future dates up and down this fair land. Highlight of the set is ‘I Love The Way You Are’ and sees perfect vocal harmonies and wonderful musicianship from the band. Great set and great fun.
Teddy – guitar, lead vocals
Freddy – lead guitar, backing Vocals
Mattias – bass, backing vocals
Chris – drums
Founded back in Stockholm 2009 Houston’s debut album got the honourable award ”Best AOR album 2010” in Classic Rock Magazine. They followed the critically successful début with a co-headlining tour with Crashdiet, who hail from… Sweden!, played Sweden Rock Festival in 2011 and managed a support slot to Cinderella at the famous Shepherds Bush Empire, in London.
Fast forward to 2104, 2 covers \ new tracks albums and a full Houston II release as well and the band are in fine form and currently looking for a longer UK tour as well. A very tight act, their sound is a little muddy to begin with but settles down after the first couple of tracks. ‘Truth Slips’ from the debut album was a bonus for the crowd when Mia Klose (who hails from Sw… ah you get the idea now!!) came on stage to provide the female duet. Dakota’s ‘Runaway’ is also played and gets many nods of recognition, thanks in no small part to Houston’s version being used in a stunning Red Bull video featuring trick cyclist Danny MacAskill (click here to view the film in full).
The set overall has the harmonised, silky smooth feel to it where the keyboards will get as much if not more airtime than the guitarists do. At one point, poor Calle Hammar is asked to turn down his guitar in the monitor so that the keyboards could come forward a bit more. Looking slightly crestfallen he comments “but I was having such a blast…” before getting the sound desk to comply. I suppose that point is the difference between the current batch of Swedish bands out there and Houston. The likes of H.E.A.T et al, are all creating crunchier hard rock albums with each new release whereas Houston are remaining faithful to that Journey-esque sound, smoother, more laid back but still full of wonderfully textured songs.
Hank Erix (Lead vocals)
Soufian Ma’Aoui (Bass)
Calle Hammar (Guitars/Backing vocals)
Victor Lundberg (Keyboards/Backing vocals )
Oscar Lundström (Drums)
Don’t Look Back
On The Radio
I’m Coming Home
Return My Heart