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