Diamond Head + New Device + KilliT
Sunday 9th October
O2 Academy Islington, London
On Sunday the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement returned to the O2 Academy in Islington. Headliners Diamond Head will need no introduction to WRC members: recognised as one of the original NWOBHM bands back in the 1970’s, they soon gained a formidable reputation for their thunderous and energetic festival performances. Diamond Head remained an underground band, never achieving the record sales that their live shows warranted, but many NWOBHM bands who did achieve greater chart success, notably Metallica and Megadeath, were quick to name Diamond Head as a vital early influence.
Not surprisingly for a band first formed in 1976, Diamond Head has experienced several personnel changes over the years. Indeed, only one member of the original line-up survives: lead guitarist Brian Tatler. However, drummer Karl Wilcox is a virtual original member: before he joined the band he was an avid fan, attending every performance he could get to, invariably in the front row! When he eventually took over the drums, in 1991, he probably knew the songs better than the rest of the line-up! Abbz (Andy Abberley) joined in 2006 and has more than proved himself as a worthwhile addition to the band, which, initially, didn’t have a specialist rhythm guitarist. Current vocalist Rasmus Bom Anderson only joined the band a couple of years ago, but his vocal style and range is a near perfect match for the music. His charisma and energy are also fully consistent with the band’s original ethos, supposedly more so than that of his predecessor (Nick Hart, who joined in 2004) but, as I never saw Nick perform, I cannot vouch for that personally. Diamond Head’s latest recruit, bass player Dean Ashton, has only been with the band a couple of months but has already merged seamlessly with the other members: on tonight’s performance you’d think he’d been there for years!
The evening started with a thunderous set from London-based New Device. With the volume turned up to deafening levels, New Device delivered a set of authentic hard rock that brought the Academy to life, screaming for more. More came in the form of KilliT, also London-based but with an international flavour: its members hail from Argentina, Israel, Hungary and the UK. Gaz Twist delivers solid, powerful vocals, which are supported by a potent yet melodic rhythm section. KilliT’s set was full of anthemic, classic Rock with catchy choruses that were bound to go down well in a live setting.
New Device and KilliT had set the scene well: the audience was now raring for Diamond Head, even cheering wildly when band members came on stage briefly for sound checks. When they finally appeared they did not disappoint, delivering a set of classic Rock full of blistering riffs, compelling choruses and energetic vocals. The set comprised of 16 songs lasting a full 90 minutes with hardly a break, often flowing straight into the next song without even allowing time for the audience to show its appreciation of the previous one!
The set opened in traditional NWOBHM style with ‘Borrowed Time’ and continued in the same vein, maintaining the recognizable Diamond Head sound despite the new musicians in the line-up. Diehards in the audience knew, and bounced along to, every song, but as soon as the well known ‘Helpless’ started the whole audience joined in. ‘Helpless’ was followed by ‘All the Reasons You Live’, slightly slower with a pronounced beat, and ‘In the Heat of the Night’ which proved Diamond Head do have a quieter side, at least for the first thirty seconds or so! ‘Knight of the Swords’, a less well known number from 1984, was also a little quieter, but sung with no less passion. The second half of the set focused on earlier, well known songs and the audience responded enthusiastically, joining or echoing Rasmus for the chorus lines of ‘To Heaven from Hell’, ‘The Prince’ and ‘Shoot Out The Lights’. Audience participation peaked on ‘Am I Evil?’, though it did seem a tad incongruous for several hundred mature, respectable men (and a few women) to be repeatedly screaming “Am I evil? Yes I am”! But, hell, I was one of them - it was that kind of evening!
Diamond Head’s current tour is timed to promote their latest album, ‘Diamond Head’, the band’s seventh studio album, but first for ten years. Their set included five songs from the new album. For many bands this would have given their audience a chance to relax, or visit the bar, while waiting for the next familiar number. This was definitely not so for Diamond Head: although tinged with a modern rock feel, the new songs fitted seamlessly into the rest of the set, holding onto the recognizable sound that is unmistakeably Diamond Head. One of them, ‘Shout at the Devil’ was even saved for the encore. It had a pronounced riff and memorable chorus line: despite its unfamiliarity, the audience were soon clapping and singing along. However my favourite of the five was ‘Diamonds’, with a great introduction and superb riffs. As the song’s chorus says, “Diamonds are forever” and, if they continue to maintain the standard of this evening’s performance, so are Diamond Head!