Vardis + Diamond Head (London, July 2015)

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Location: ‘Bush Hall’, London (England)
Date: 18th July, 2015
Bands: Vardis, Diamond Head
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Despite having passed by countless times, this was my first visit to the venue. Its Victorian-style decor is an atypical environment for a Metal gig. And yet connotations of timelessness strike me as appropriate for both bands on the bill.

Yes, the bands…..had someone, until a few months ago, suggested Vardis would be playing live with Diamond Head I’d probably have sniggered with incredulity. But here they are, 2 icons of the NWOBHM. For Vardis in particular this gig is the first in England’s capital for almost 30 years. Diamond Head, on the other hand, are currently working on a brand new album and this gig was to serve as a timely reminder that the band is still in business.

Striking up conversations with queuing fans, I was surprised to find that for many of them this wasn’t the first time they were seeing Vardis (or Diamond Head). Such is band loyalty in Metal!

Anyhow, rambling thoughts aside, here’s what I saw and heard when the actual event kicked off…..

DIAMOND HEAD
It took a couple of songs for the band to loosen up but when Diamond Head played ‘Lightning To The Nations’ they felt unstoppable.
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‘Bones’ was a new and unreleased composition – I think I need to listen to it again to really get into it but I liked the song. It has a great riff and seemed to hark back to Diamond Head’s classic repertoire. Speaking of which…… ‘In The Heat Of The Night’, ‘It’s Electric’, ‘Sucking My Love’, and ‘The Prince’ injected salvos of adrenaline into the audience (myself included) while ‘Am I Evil?’, with which the band closed the show, was absolute magic.

Danish-born vocalist Rasmus ‘Ras’ Bom Andersen, who joined Diamond Head only recently, is no Sean Harris but I liked his singing. He had a very dynamic stage presence and a knack of working up the crowd.  Again, it took a few songs into the set for his voice to settle, but doubtlessly he’s an excellent singer and an asset for Diamond Head.

Guitarists Brian Tatler and Andy ‘Abbs’ Abberley sounded tight together with their guitar harmonies really bringing the songs alive. All the band members seemed to be having a great time…an attitude which inevitably rubbed off onto the audience.

A strong performance made easier by a strong selection of material.

Set-list:
Borrowed Time
Bones
Lightning To The Nations
To Heaven
To The Devil His Due + In The Heat Of The Night
Shoot Out The Lights
It’s Electric
Sucking My Love
The Prince
Am I Evil?

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VARDIS
Tonight Vardis were celebrating the official release of the band’s first recording of new material since 1986. The new EP is “200 M.P.H.”. So of course songs from this record found their way into the set. ‘Jolly Roger’ is one of them – I hadn’t yet heard the EP at that point and the song felt like a typical Vardis number.
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One of the things I liked most about Vardis’ show was the freeform-style instrumental parts within their songs. All three band members had opportunities to show off as musicians – something which I appreciated. Although most of the material was guitar-driven, also bassist Terry Horbury managed to impress me with his fuzzy, dirty bass-lines.

Joe Clancy, who joined Vardis only a few months earlier as the band’s drummer, appeared to stumble a couple of times but apart from that he proved to be a capable replacement for his predecessor Gary Pearson.

If I had to criticise one thing on what I heard, Vardis’ songs lacked a strong identity. I liked the set, as clearly did the rest of the audience, and the material sounded absolutely great when performed live. But it’s not like, say, Diamond Head’s ‘Am I Evil?’ or ‘The Prince’ whose harmonies and riffs make those songs instantly recognisable. For sure Vardis were eminently entertaining and seemed to have a natural disposition for live performances.

The inevitable encore brought an end to one fantastic night. I look forward to seeing both bands again in the near future.

Set-list:
The Lion’s Share
Radio Rockers
Move Along
Situation Negative
Jolly Roger
Dirty Money
Gary Glitter Pt1
The World’s Insane
Love Is Dead
Don’t Mess With The Best
Mods & Rockers
Shoot Straight
The Loser
Let’s Go
Silver Machine (Hawkwind cover)
Out Of The Way

(Note: there may have been a slight deviation from the above set-list.)

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LIVE WORDS: Chris Galea
LIVE PHOTOS: Chris Galea

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