Archive for the ‘The Sweet’ Category

The Sweet The Boiler Shop Newcastle 24 November 2022

sweet tixAnother night of memories and revisiting a band I followed many years ago. The Sweet are a much maligned and misunderstood band. Behind the hits and all the glam rock glitter, hid a classic heavy rock band. Guitarist Andy Scott had been in a string of bands in the 60s and would always bring a heavier side to The Sweet particularly on their album such as the epic Sweet Fanny Adams, which I recently purchased again just to listen to some of their classic heavier tracks. If you listen to their hits such as “Blockbuster”, “Ballroom Blitz” and “Action” there was always a driving riff, emanating from both Andy Scott’s guitar and Steve Priest’s bass.

SWEET FANNY ADAMSI first saw The Sweet live back in 1973 or 1974 when they were at the height of their fame and success, at Newcastle City Hall along with a good friend, Dave, who I have lost touch with and a hall full of screaming teenage girls. It really was a “Teenage Rampage” and lots and lots of fun! A few years later, after the hits had started to fade away, I saw them with my friend Norm and a few others on a very cold, wet evening at Sunderland Locarno. The venue was far from full but the show was excellent, very loud and quite heavy. Next time I saw them I was with my late wife Marie in a very empty City Hall. This was around 1981, and singer Brian Connolly had left the band to pursue I think a solo career. The Sweet continued as a three-piece band with Steve Priest taking on vocal duties and fronting the band. They still sang all of the hits but it wasn’t quite the same.

sweet lpRoll-on 10 years or so and I saw Brian Connolly’s Sweet performing at Sunderland Polytechnic Students Union Wearmouth Hall at a packed Saturday night dance. This was Brian’s version of the band with a completely new set of musicians. Nevertheless, and of course, all the hits were performed well and the crowd went crazy. Then move forward another 20 years or so I saw Andy Scott’s Sweet performing as part of a 70s package tour alongside Slade (minus Noddy and fronted by guitarist Dave Hill alongside original drummer Don Powell).

sweet 5The Boiler Shop is exactly what the name suggests, an old warehouse which in the past was an industrial workplace, situated behind Newcastle train station. My carer Jackie and I had a great view of the proceedings, sitting on a wheelchair platform overlooking the crowd with a direct view of the stage. Well by now, Andy Scott has achieved his dream and transformed The Sweet into a heavy rock band with new musicians around him all of whom look like they could have come from a true Hard Rock heavy metal band. Andy is the only surviving member of The Sweet. Brian Connolly sadly passed away in his early 50s, from alcoholism. Drummer Mick Tucker sadly passed away recently as did bassist and he of the bright ginger hair and crazy voice Steve Priest, who fronted his own version of the band situated in the USA.

sweet 3 So, Andy remains out on his own, to fly The Sweet flag high, having rejuvenated the band as out and out rockers, no longer closet heavy metal contenders. I buy a T-shirt and a couple of signed posters, one for me and one for my friend John in the USA. Soon the band take the stage and they are loud, heavy and I mean very LOUD. Great! They crash into “Action” and then follow this with a couple of heavier tunes. And that is the format for the evening: a hit followed by one or two heavier album or new tracks followed by another hit and so it goes onward.

SWEET POSTER SIGNEDAndy Scott looks great. All the heavy-metal hero with a long mane of pure white hair. Respect. He bangs away at his red Fender Stratocaster. “The Sixteens “(my particular favourite) soon follows and then we are treated to hit after hit. “Wigwam Bam”, “Little Willy”, “Hellraiser” and another classic “Love Is like Oxygen”. Just fantastic. Each one delivered in a new heavier, louder manner. These are no longer pop classics they are heavy metal songs!

The encores are “Blockbuster” and finally “Ballroom Blitz”! It don’t get any better than this. Happy days.

Sweet Newcastle City Hall 6th March 1981

Sweet Newcastle City Hall 6th March 1981
sweet81In 1979 Brian Connolly left Sweet. His alcoholism had become a problem and had started to affect the band’s music and performances. Sweet continued as a trio with Steve Priest and Andy Scott handling lead vocals, and Mick Tucker continuing on drums. Keyboard player Gary Moberley joined the group for live concerts. I saw the three piece Sweet at Newcastle City Hall in March 1981. Sadly the venue was far from full, which was a shame because this was a great show, very loud and rocky. The set was a mis of a few of the hits, and soke of the rockier album tracks. Based on a live recording of the tour rehearsals, it is likely to have been something like this: Ballroom Blitz; Burn On The Flame/Restless; Burning/Some Else Will; Two wont go; It makes me wonder; Hey mama; Love is like oxygen; Fox on the run; Done me wrong alright; Guitar solo; Action; Set Me Free; Drum Solo; Sweet FA
Sweet split at the end of the tour, playing their last gig in Glasgow on 20th March 1981.
In 1983 I saw Brian Connolly supporting Pat Benatar at Newcastle City Hall. At the time Brian was fronting his new band called Connolly’s Encore, which consisted of ex-Argent guitarist John Verity and Terry Uttley, bass player from Smokie. The next time I saw a version of Sweet, was when Brain Connolly’s Sweet played Sunderland Wearmouth Hall in the early 1990s. The line-up was Brian Connolly (lead vocals), Dave Farmer (ex Blackfoot Sue on drums), Gary Farmer (Dave’s younger brother on bass) and Steve Turner (guitar). The hall was packed and Brian and his band played pretty good versions of all the hits to the delight of a very drunk Saturday night student crowd.
In 1985 Andy Scott and Mick Tucker re-formed their own version of Sweet.
Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker both sadly passed away; Connolly in 1997 and Tucker in 2002. Andy Scott continues to front Sweet today; I saw them a couple of years ago at the Sage on a Xmas tour with Slade. Steve Priest fronts his own version of the band, which performs in the USA.

Sweet Newcastle City Hall 2nd November 1973

Sweet Newcastle City Hall 2nd November 1973
sweettix83“Are you ready, Steve? Aha.
Andy? Yeah! Mick? OK.
Alright, fellas, let’s go!..”
Sweet were a closet heavy metal band, but then you knew that already. Sure, they hit the UK singles charts with some pure (and great) glamrock pop songs, but if you took the trouble to turn those records over, the B sides featured some proper straight-on heavy rock. Determined to seek out the secret rock band hiding behind the glitter, I went along with a couple of mates, and 2,000 screaming girls, to see Sweet at Newcastle City Hall. It was at the height of their fame in late 1973, and the place was jam packed. Sweet came on stage to “The Stripper” music, and launched headlong into “Hell Raiser”. Their camp rock show didn’t let up for the next hour. What can I say? The girls screamed. Sweet played all their hits, and camped it up; seriously tongue in cheek. Wonderful.
Support came from Sun Chariot, according to the ticket (now who were they and whatever happened to them?)
sweetprogSetlist: Hell Raiser; Burning / Someone Else Will; Rock ‘N’ Roll Disgrace; Wig-Wam Bam; Need a Lot of Lovin’; Done Me Wrong Alright; You’re Not Wrong for Lovin’ Me; The Man with the Golden Arm; Little Willy; Teenage Rampage; Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley: Keep On Knockin’ / Shakin’ All Over / Lucille / Great Balls of Fire / Reelin’ and Rockin’ / Peppermint Twist / Shout
Encore: The Ballroom Blitz; Block Buster!
The next time I saw Sweet was at Sunderland Locarno a few years later. I think it was around the time that they were in the charts with “Love is Like Oxygen”. By then their glam period had passed, and many of their teen fans had moved on. It was a rainy weekday night, and the ballroom was pretty empty. But, being the troopers that they were, Sweet put on another great performance.

“And the man at the back said
Everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz
And the girl in the corner said
Boy, I wanna warn ya, it’ll turn into a ballroom blitz
Ballroom blitz, ballroom blitz, ballroom blitz
It’s it’s a ballroom blitz, it’s it’s a ballroom blitz”

The Sweet The Sage Gateshead Dec 15th 2012

Slade and Sweet The Sage Gateshead Dec 15th 2012
sweettix1 I bought a ticket for this gig on ebay for £1.75 (result!) and was particularly looking forward to seeing the latest version of the Sweet, as it is many years since I have seen the band. These days the Sweet features guitarist Andy Scott as the only original member. I’ll blog about their set, rather than Slade, as I wrote about the latest (Noddy-less) version of Slade when I saw them at London’s Koko club last christmas. sweetprog I saw the classic Sweet line-up a couple of times in the 70s, and also saw Andy, Steve Priest and Mick Tucker as a three piece in the early 80s, after Brian Connolly had left the band, and Brian Connolly’s Sweet in the early 90s. All of these line-ups were good fun in concert, so I was interested to see how this latest incarnation would shape up. Sweet started their set with Hellraiser, which sounded really good. Andy is very clearly the leader of the band, playing those chunky fuzz-toned guitar riffs that are the bedrock of all the old hits on a lovely red strat. They followed Hellraiser with New York Groove, which is the title track of their new album. Its good to see that the guys are still releasing new material. sweettix2 This new track was followed by The Six Teens, which is often forgotten, but is one of the best Sweeet hits in my view. Then we got a few of the hits: Wig Wam Bam ran straight into Little Willy. By now most of the crowd were up on their feet, singing along to every word. It was during Teenage Rampage that I looked down from my seat in the circle and saw a group of 50-something men and women singing “Recognise your age it’s a teenage rampage”; which seemed almost surreal. The next song was a cover of Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round, which also appears on the new album. Love is Like Oxygen followed; a great song, written by Andy, and quite different to the rest of Sweet’s material. Then Andy paid tribute to Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker, and the “crazy journey which I was on in the 70s”, and assured us that “as long as there is breath in me”, he would be there playing with Sweet. Then they played Blockbuster, Andy introduced the members of current line-up, and they finished with Fox on the Run. Great stuff. The new line-up is very strong, with three great front men: Andy, Tony O’Hora on guitar, vocals and keyboards, and, on lead vocals and bass, local Geordie guy Peter Lincoln. The powerhouse drummer is Bruce Bisland. The current band plays all the hits in a blend of heavy rock and pop that seems entirely right. Andy looks good; great 70s style hair; very thick and long (makes me dead jealous). The crowd wouldn’t let them leave without an encore; we got Action (another great, under-rated and oft-forgotten song); and of course, the whole place then went crazy to the Ballroom Blitz. I went down to the foyer during the interval and queued in a line to meet the members of Sweet, who signed my programme. Great to shake hands with Andy Scott! Legend. A good fun set, and better that I had expected.

Pat Benatar Newcastle City Hall January 1983

Pat Benatar Newcastle City Hall January 1983
I only saw Pat Benatar once, at Newcastle City Hall in 1983 on a short UK tour. At the time she was a hard rock act; this was before her rise to mega stardom, and pop/ adult oriented rock. I knew a few of her songs at the time, notably Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Shadows of the Night”. Her big smash “Love is a Battefield” was yet to be released, although she may well have performed it. I remember the gig being a pretty good rock show. Support came from Brian Connolly of the Sweet, who was at the time fronting his new band called Connolly’s Encore, which consisted of ex-Argent guitarist John Verity and Terry Uttley, bass player from Smokie. I found a backstage pass on the floor after the gig, which I still have (see left). I googled a setlist from a March 1983 concert in the USA on setlist.fm, which was: Anxiety; Love Is a Battlefield; Hell Is for Children; Promises in the Dark; Precious Time; Fire and Ice; You Better Run; Heartbreaker; I Need a Lover; Treat Me Right; Shadows of the Night; Hit Me with Your Best Shot. I guess the set at the City Hall will have been similar.