The Sweet + Matt Pearce/Daliah Sherrington

Sunday 28th November 2021

Islington Assembly Hall, London

I guess this was an evening of things not going to plan. The Islington Assembly Hall very sensibly insisted on vaccination passports or negative tests for entry into the venue, but this did not deter the majority of fans at a sell-out gig. The immediate blow upon arrival was that the opening support tribute act, Limehouse Lizzy, had to pull out of the tour in its entirety, enough for the venue to offer a refund for anyone not attending the gig for that very reason. So in stepped Matt Pearce, of the Mutiny fame, alongside vocal supremo Daliah Sherrington in their place.

I’m not sure if it was a hasty decision, but the duo decided upon an acoustic set without backing, that perhaps did neither of them justice. Matt Pearce needs to be plugged in, as I witnessed three weeks earlier, because he generates such excitement in crowds, whether laying out funky grooves or squealing solos on his Gibson. As a result I think it diminishes the potency of Daliah’s vocals as well, given that the venue is bigger than an intimate room.

Come the interval, the restless crowd were calling out the familiar “We Want Sweet! We Want Sweet!” So much has been written about The Sweet, I guess there is no point going into the minute detail here: one surviving member of the classic line-up of the band is Andy Scott, revolving members, the sad passing of Steve Priest last year and the important position they held in the history of Glam Rock of the Seventies.

This was not a re-trotting out of the set that they play here almost exactly two years ago. The addition of the two new members in band, Tom Cory (who incidentally played in the Novatines, an Andy Scott produced group, which opened for the Sweet at this very venue two years ago) and Lee Small, who took over duties on the bass and harmonises oh-so-well on vocals with the rest of the group, have breathed new life into the set-up.

So it seems this mix of relative youth and classic experience has allowed for 'Windy City' to appear on the set-list for the first time in an age, and the newly arranged, driven and anthemic, 'Everything', which, incidentally, is the new single. But this wouldn’t be The Sweet without the classics 'Fox on the Run' and then the encore of 'Blockbuster' (for me the THE epitome of 70’s Glam Rock) and 'Ballroom Blitz' - cue dancing in the upstairs balcony seats!

Going home, I sat on the tube and heard an older couple cooing about what a great gig they had been to a younger couple, and that they should really check out the band "Sweet”. I couldn’t resist but join in and show off my pictures from the photography pit (and, in the continuing theme of things not going to plan, I missed my stop). And there in a nutshell is what you get with this band: the atmosphere to spread joy and the lasting ability to entertain.

Ivan De Mello