Wednesday 6th December 2017
O2 Academy, Islington, London
Last Wednesday night, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement returned to London's O2 Academy in Islington. Headliners Diamond Head, recognised as one of the original NWOBHM bands back in the 1970’s, soon gained a formidable reputation for their thunderous and energetic festival performances. However, they 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 Megadeth, were quick to name Diamond Head as a vital early influence. Now in their third era - which has now lasted 17 years - only one member of the original line-up survives: legendary lead guitarist Brian Tatler.
The bombshell from all-round nice guy Brian, in our pre-gig interview, that the band would not be playing tonight 'All The Reason You Live', nor would they be doing a Montrose cover, didn't detract in the end from their powerful NWOBHM set! Seriously our ears are still ringing, despite them being reduced to a four-piece on the night, due to the absence of rhythm guitarist Andy 'Abbz' Abberley Anyway, Tatler, vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen, drummer and previous avid fan Karl Wilcox plus latest recruit Dean Ashton on bass guitar (who replaced Eddie Moohan last year) blew the bloody roof off the Academy in a lucky thirteen song set plus an encore. In fact, their tour last year was timed to promote their latest album, ‘Diamond Head’, the band’s seventh studio album, but the first for ten years and they carried on where they left off last year, delivering a set of classic Rock full of blistering riffs, compelling choruses and energetic vocals.
In fact they literally did carry on where they left off at the Academy last year, opening with their encore 'Shout At The Devil' - one of the stand out's from their last album. With its pronounced riff and memorable chorus line the Diamond Head faithful were already clapping and singing along. "Good evening London" bellowed John Hartson lookalike Andersen (I wouldn't like to argue with Rasmus either) as they went from the new to the old and the title track from their 1982 and second album 'Borrowed Time' with Born Andersen whipping up the crowd with a few "hey hey hey's" (who would argue with him). Despite the ten year wait for 'Diamond Head', the modern Rock feel to the new album felt like the guys had never been away. The disappointment of the exclusion of 'All The Reasons You Live' was more than made up for by 'Bones' with its great riff and vocal from Born Andersen, the track fitting seamlessly into Diamond Head's NWOBHM back catalogue. Indeed, talking of fitting in, Born Anderson's joined the band only a few years ago, but his vocal style and range is a near perfect match for their music and his charisma and energy on the night well and truly kept the Diamond Head flag flying.
What about the legend that is Tatler though? Well there's no doubting his enthusiasm as he hi-fived us down the front on the title track of two consecutive numbers from their 1980 debut album 'Lightening To The Nations', followed by 'The Prince', which demonstrated the early influence of Punk on Tatler's music - with the audience once again joining in or echoing Born Andersen on the chorus lines as they did with a few "wooooooaaaaah's" on the quieter, more sedate opening to 'The Heat Of The Night', another from 'Borrowed Time', before Tatler duly ratchet it up a gear with another awesome heavy guitar solo, although Rasmus was on the money for singling out Wilcox for praise at the end, for his unerring drumming. Born Andersen then joked that he was having difficulty in reading their set list - which was written in red, although, rather aptly, next up was 'Set My Soul On Fire' - another diamond from their last album before he then asked everyone to put their hands in the air for live music and their support bands, namely Cairo Son and Dead Man's Whiskey. Unfortunately we missed both support bands (that's another story) - which was a real shame as we were well impressed with Dead Man's Whiskey, when we saw them supporting Bigfoot at The Underworld in late October.
Tatler's V-guitar went into overdrive on 'Lightening To The Nations' 'Shoot Out The Lights' - and the nearest we got to a Montrose cover (who they covered in ‘Evil Live’ - which was re-released earlier this year) was another gem from the same album, the driving Montrose influenced Rock of 'Sweet And Innocent' - Born Andersen's opening 'Yeah yeah" so reminiscent of Hagar with Ashton's great bass work something that Bill Church would no doubt have been proud of. Maintaining the recognisable Diamond Head sound was 'Diamonds' another from their latest album, with its great introduction and superb riff, which certainly had the roadie (think Bobby from Sons Of Anarchy) rockin' out big time towards the back of the stage, before they launched into 'Lightening To The Nations' 'It's Electric' - Tatler's guitar solo completely justifying the song's title. I suppose it was inevitable following both Wilcox's drum and Ashton's bass intro to another track from 'Lightening To The Nations' - the frenetic 'Helpless' - that saw the arrival of the mosh pit before proceedings morphed into mass fist pumping as Karl's snare led us down the path of the Metallica covering and Sabbath sounding riff of 'Am I Evil?' (also the title of of Tatler's recently re-released autobiography) again from 'Lightening To The Nations'. "Am I Evil?", "Yes I Am!” the crowd yelled before the band returned for an encore with "one for all the ladies" - not surprisingly 'Sucking My Love' - which no doubt the Rock chicks in the audience lapped up - a monster nine minute track with a whole lotta love, Diamond Head duly rounding off a memorable high voltage set with a few more "hey heys" plus a final Tatler guitar masterclass for good measure.
Watch out for Diamond Head's tour with Saxon in early 2018 plus the release of a new album, which they have been working on in the studio this year in between touring. Also watch out for our audio interview with Brian Tatler coming soon. With bands like Diamond Head still at the forefront of the NWOBHM movement, further proof like Lionheart the previous Saturday night At The Underworld, that the genre is well and truly alive and still kicking arse.