Slade and Sweet @ Stoke on Trent – live review

Slade and Sweet
Stoke on Trent
Hanley Victoria Hall
November 25th 2012

Dave Jennings enjoys a 70’s flashback with a double shot of Glam from Sweet and Slade. 

We’re in a place that is rarely spoken of, where many people who have been to seem keen to forget, and whose many good points are often over-looked because of a grim and forbidding reputation. However, enough about the early 1970’s, tonight Stoke-on-Trent welcomed two of the premier bands from the ‘Glam’ period on the same headline bill: Sweet and Slade.

As anyone who’s spent time there knows, Stoke is one of the friendliest places in the country and also one of the most popular among bands on the live circuit due to the warm reception from the local crowd and tonight was to be no exception.

‘Glam-Rock’, the very phrase can see music ‘experts’ recoil and it seems to be a period many in the media would prefer to pretend never even happened. John Robb has written before about the relevance of this period and its crucial influence on the later punk movement and recently again stressed the influence of ‘Glam-Rock’. John said, “There is a myth that before punk, there was no great music in the 1970’s but Glam Rock was one of the great eras of British pop and was the foundations on which punk was built with powerful songs, great choruses and tribal drums.”

Punk is often portrayed as a dynamic force that swept away the bloated ‘prog-rock’ that was dominating the scene. But reality often gets in the way of convenient narratives and in the early to mid-70’s, Top of the Pops would showcase classic songs on a weekly basis from T Rex, Slade, Sweet, Bowie and others that fed a voracious teenage desire for anthemic, sing-along, power-packed pop. With Slade being cited as influences by Joey Ramone and Steve Jones, and Sweet by Kiss and Motley Crue, no further discussion of their legacy is necessary.

With all this in mind, we were smacking our glittery lips in anticipation as we headed across the border through the badlands of Bickerton and Nantwich in blizzard conditions. Sweet took the stage bang on 7.30 and launched straight into ‘Hellraiser’ followed by ‘Teenage Rampage’ which set the trend for a no-holds-barred set that combined their classic rock tracks with songs from the excellent new album ‘New York Connection’.

Pete Lincoln’s bass locked in perfectly with the storming drum barrage launched by Bruce Bisland to provide a strong platform for the keyboard and guitar wizadry of Tony O’Hora and the legendary founder member and keeper of the Sweet-flame, Andy Scott. If Scott was bothered by Wrexham’s recent dodgy home form, he wasn’t letting it show tonight and the vocals, which were always a defining feature of Sweet back in the day, can never have sounded better with the range of Lincoln complemented by the soaring backing vocals of Scott and O’Hora.

The Potteries crowd were well on message as every member of a full house was out of their seat clapping and stamping along as hit followed hit. ‘The Six Teens’,‘Little Willy’ and ‘Wig-Wam Bam’ preceded a final onslaught of an extended version of ‘Love is Like Oxygen’, ‘Blockbuster’ and ‘Fox on the Run’.


Before the encores, Andy Scott took time to remember the late, great Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker before introducing what is an outstanding 2012 Sweet line up. ‘Action’ and the force of nature that is ‘The Ballroom Blitz’ ended the set and the ceremonial cutting of his guitar strings by Andy Scott signaled an end to the first part of the evening’s celebrations. This wasn’t to be the last we saw of them however, as all 4 members of the band were already in the foyer by the time we got there chatting and mingling.

A short refreshment break over, we headed back in for Slade who, true to form, launched into ‘We’ll Bring the House Down’ followed by ‘Take Me Back ’Ome’, ‘Gudbuy T’Jane’ and ‘Far Far Away’. Dave Hill , noted fan of ‘yob culture,’ worked the crowd from all corners of the stage, a knee trembling, high kicking, whirling dervish of a riff machine firing out the chords that are part of the DNA of anyone who grew up in the 1970’s.

Hit followed hit (remember in those days hits meant selling industrial quantities of singles), as the crowd sang along to ‘Far Far Away’, ‘Cos I luv You’, ‘Everyday’, and ‘Bangin’ Man’. Mal McNulty was doing an admirable job on vocals which certainly demand a distinctive style while John Berry held it all together on bass. Before the melancholic ‘My Oh My’, Dave Hill reminded us of all the great music from the early 70’s that will stay with us all our lives and maybe into the next life where he promised to meet us. Regardless of that, there’s simply no arguing with the full book of classics that where delivered by both Sweet and Slade and experiencing it was like riding a bike – you simply never forget.


‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’ brought the set to a rousing finish and the indestructible Don Powell removed his false gnashers and brandished them at the crowd like they were a trophy of war. A raucous ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ was enough for this punter, but as Hill teased “You know it’s coming, and you’re gonna get it whether you want it or not!” led to the inevitable ‘Merry Christmas Everybody‘. Suddenly they were gone, the lights came on and it was 2012 again, for better or worse. However, if you’ve ever been to the place we went tonight, a part of you will never leave. God save Stoke and long live the 1970’s!

Words by Dave Jennings. More writing by Dave on Louder Than War can be found here. 

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  1. Being a Sweet fan as a spotty little oik since the release of Co Co, I get to see Andy scott’s Sweet as often as possible. I went to the Birmingham leg of this tour, then at the 11th hour decided to go to the Stoke leg (as I live in Stoke). Talking to the band in the interval made me feel like all the following of the band and the money spent on LP’s and 45’s, CD’s and DVD’s was well worth it. Thanks to Tony O’Hora, I was invited to see them again at the Ipswich leg of the tour as his guest, what a lovely gesture to a genuine fan. It was another rocking night and I will never get bored of them. The 2012 line up of the band is just as good as the original. If anybody gets the chance to see them live…..DO IT.


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