H.E.A.T. – Live In London

HEAT1Once upon a time, live albums were the coolest thing I knew. That was before I realised that bands went in the studio and overdubbed stuff after the show was recorded. Hell, I didn’t even know that bands overdubbed studio records when I was a kid. I though the just went into the studio, played the songs back to back and viola – album done. Overdubs? Mixing? Mastering? Nono, you just played and pushed rec and play at the same time. But even to this day, I don’t care if they redo stuff afterwards as long as it sounds live. If I’m down with the live experience, the band has done their job, as far as I’m concerned. And I don’t want to hear a string break, off-key backing vocals and a drummer missing a beat when I’m listening to a live record at home. Go ahead and fix it, I don’t mind. Oh, well, a live album – Kiss’ Alive (1975) – was one of my first rock experiences in my life, so I guess I set the standard there. Since then I couldn’t wait to hear the live versions of my favourite bands’ songs. I longed so much for Kiss Alive II (1977) to come out when I was a kid that my stomach hurt. Needless to say, I love those two Kiss live albums dearly. Fact is, if I have to pick one album that I consider the best album ever made, it has to be Kiss Alive! For a while I, all I wanted was to listen to live albums and there has been a whole bunch of them that I hold very dear. Thin Lizzy’s Live And Dangerous (1978) and Lifve (1983), Rolling Stones’ Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out (1970), Sweet’s Strung Up (1975), AC/DC’s If You want Blood…You Got It (1978), Whitesnake’s Live In The Heart Of The City (1980), Iron Maiden’s Live After Death (1985), Scorpions’ World Wide Live (1985) and Accept’s Staying A Life (1990). These are albums that I can listen to over and over and over and still get goosebumps all over. Other live records like Judas Priest’s Priest…Live (1986), Saxon’s The Eagle Has Landed (1982), Black Sabbath’s Live Evil (1982), Kiss’ Alive III (1993) and Deep Purple’s Made In Japan (1972) are all bona-fide live albums, but maybe not in the league of the other mentioned. But except for the Kiss and Accept records, live records stopped being fun for me in the mid eighties, they had played its part and even though I’ve heard many, many live albums after that, none of them has even come close to making me feel like those classics has. Fact is, nowadays, I usually don’t even care to check live albums out, I found them totally uninteresting. I don’t know if bands like Deep Purple, Iron Maiden and Rolling Stones – bands that releases live albums after each tour – has ruined it for me. A live album is nothing special today. Back in the day, you had to long for a live album, hope that your favourite band would even release one. Today, live albums come by the dozen all the time. So when Swedish AOR / melodic rock heroes H.E.A.T. broke the news that they would release a live album, my reaction was: why bother? Don’t get me wrong, I love H.E.A.T. and I know that they are one of the best and hottest live bands around right now, but I couldn’t understand why. Are people really interested in live albums today? Well, being an old live album fan, I did get curious and knowing that H.E.A.T. has befriended England by large, maybe the guys had something cool going on here.

Just listening to the intro made me feel like there was something hot going on here. It felt real, it felt authentic and it builded an expectation for what’s to come. When opener “Point Of No Return” breaks loose it’s like I’m there. If I close my eyes I can smell the smoke, the MJ, beer, sweat and perfume, I can see the band rock, I can see singer Erik Grönwall jump around the stage like the Duracell Bunny with ADHD. When Erik lets the audience take the chorus – “Point of nooo retuuurn…”, the live experience is total – and we haven’t even gotten through the first track. “A Shot At Redemption” with its addictive blues rock groove and catchy hooks just kill all resistance – if there ever was any. The song is made for the stage and I’m not far from start jumping up and down at home in my living room. “Better Off Alone” is an amazing tune on record, but live it’s an ass kicker deluxe – I’m now lost in the audience playing air guitar for all I’m worth. I don’t know how familiar the English crowd is with “1000 Miles” as it is an older song, that wasn’t released on an album – it was H.E.A.T.’s contribution to the Swedish part of the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2009, before Grönwall joined the band and it was a big hit here in Sweden. But according to the reaction on this live CD, they knew it well. It was a good song then, but on this album it gets a new life – brilliant. “It’s All About Tonight” is an amazing rock groover as a studio version, so just think about how this song sounds in a live version. I’m sweating now! The title track from their latest album “Tearing Down The Walls” might be a ballad, but this is no sit-down-and-weep ballad, no, this is a powerful ballad with both balls and emotion – and the crowd sings the hell out of it. I wish I was there! “Mannequin Show” might be the bastard child of Britney Spears “Oops I Did It Again” and any given melodic hard rocker from the late 80’s / early 90’s, but it’s still a brilliant tune and it would be a service error by large to not play a song like this live. Only two pre-Grönwall tunes are included on this album and the second one, “Late Night Lady” is a song I have never reflected on before, but in this version it could damn well become a H.E.AT. classic. It’s taken from their self titled debut album from 2008, an album that has never stuck with me at all. When I saw that the jazzy and mellow AOR tune “Downtown” was included here, I was unsure whether it would suit a live album, but of course, all worries unnecessary, the song is a killer, so it suits. “Enemy In Me” and “Emergency” are both great songs, but in between other greats they have a tendency to disappear a little. Well, not on this album, pal. Live they grow into real crowd pleasers and the live environment is their true element. The ending with the fantastic “Breaking The Silence” and the hit single “Living On The Run” are just mind-blowing. The pure electricity and sheer power of those songs makes for a perfect closer. This is how you do it, folks!

If there’s one negative thing to say about this album, then it’s the shortage of older pre-Grönwall songs. They have done some really good stuff that they could have showcased here, stuff that would have been really fun to hear with Erik on the voice. On the other hand, that would have meant that new songs would have to be removed and which of those songs should be given the boot then? None of them! So, by now, I guess you have realised that love this album. Hell, H.E.A.T. are now responsible for giving me hope for the future of the live album – the live album that kicks your ass so hard there’s a foot where your (insert genital of choice) should be. I’m not saying that this album is Alive, Live And Dangerous or Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out, it couldn’t be. Those albums are classics from another time, but the fact is that I haven’t heard a live album that blew me away in a long, long time – we’re talking years here, many years – but this one did. It’s no surprise, really, because not only has H.E.A.T. released two masterpiece studio records since Grönwall joined the band – Breaking The Silence and Tearing Down The Walls – they have also toured like crazy and I have seen them on three occasions and I don’t exaggerate when I say that H.E.A.T. is one of the best live bands around right now. I also saw them once before Grönwall’s entrance and I wasn’t impressed much. They weren’t bad – they just were. Speaking of Grönwall, his transformation from a little boy who won Swedish Idol to a true rock star, full of self-confidence and charisma is astonishing – the guy was obviously born to be a frontman. The question is, when are the world gonna wake up and realise that we have a band that is made for arenas here? A band that should headline festivals. A band that should dominate the world. Big words, yes, but I stand for every single one of them. Pick this album up now – no, do it yesterday! Do you wanna be the one who was there from the start or the one who comes in when they’re already big? Because they’re gonna get there sooner or later. Let’s see to it that it happens sooner!

Jon Wilmenius (10/10)

Tracklist:

1. Point Of No Return
2. A Shot At Redemption
3. Better Off Alone
4. 1000 Miles
5. It’s All About Tonight
6. Inferno
7. The Wreckoning/Tearing Down The Walls
8. Mannequin Show
9. Late Night Lady
10. In And Out Of Trouble
11. Downtown
12. Enemy In Me
13. Emergency
14. Breaking The Silence
15. Living On The Run

 

 

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2 comments on “H.E.A.T. – Live In London

    • Cool. Please do look into them, you’ll be happy you did. And then when you’ve become a fan,because you will, spread the word. 😉
      Thanks for checking in.

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