London - January 23
The dubiously named Hardcore Superstar (perhaps the Swedish translation sounds cool?) have been steadily gaining popularity over recent years and their latest, heaviest effort, Dreamin' In A Casket, has cemented their position on the hard rock circuit.
The University of London's wonderful union building steadily filled up with leather clad rock fans sporting Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe and similar shirts and more hairspray than Toni & Guy sell in a month right up to kick-off around and hour after the doors opened. The bill was to prove a strong one with young English band The High Society opening and Hardcore Superstar's fellow countrymen Crazy Lixx as special guests, replacing Crashdiet for the UK leg of the tour which started towards the end of the last year.
It's probably safe to say next to no one attending had heard The High Society before, but that afterwards everyone had been pleasantly surprised. Writhing Russell-Brand-meets-Mick-Jagger front-man Maxi Browne suitably wailed his way through a half-hour of grooving sleaze rock tracks which did the perfect job of warming up the crowd ahead of Crazy Lixx.
Reports at last year's Sweden Rock Festival of Crazy Lixx turning in an awful performance on the first day didn't bode well for their set tonight, but a blistering opening brace of Hell Or High Water and Heroes Are Forever soon proved all doubts unnecessary. Like The High Society, Crazy Lixx aren't simply straight-ahead, generic sleaze rock, and incorporate a healthy amount of groove (almost Southern) into their sound, which is impressively heavy in a live setting. A feint feeling of blowing their best songs too early set in for the remaining five songs, culminating in Want It, which all had a similar sound to them, but the short set was high energy and certainly didn't show any signs of the poor reports from Sweden Rock. A longer set with even more tracks from new album Loud Minority will likely show a greater diversity. In all likelihood they were aiming for an all-out, high-impact rock set as a support band.
Hardcore Superstar themselves wasted no time showing why they were top of this bill, instantly piling on the heavy grooving riffs of Need No Company and hauling the masses in from the bar area. Showcasing as much as was feasible from the new album they played with very little pause for breath. I don't think I've ever seen a front-man so completely immersed in a concert as Joakim Berg was on this night and his energy levels, enthusiasm and complete belief in his performance, songs, and band were unmeasurable.
The songs from the new album were easily the best on show with the title track and Sorry For The Shape I'm In coming out top of the pile. Right up until Sensitive To The Light Hardcore Superstar, and Berg in particular, were absolutely outstanding, but from My Good Reputation onwards they played mostly older songs which are a lot brighter and punkier than the Dreamin' In A Casket material, and feel much staler in comparison, lacking the groove in favour of a more straight-ahead approach.
Nevertheless they maintained their energy levels, as did the crowd, and the show as a whole proved to be one of the most enjoyable and complete evenings of pure, original rock 'n' roll London has witnessed for some time.
“ heavy grooving riffs ”
Setlist: Need No Company / Medicate Me / Silence For The Peacefully / She's Offbeat / Dreamin' In A Casket / Hateful / Sorry For The Shape I'm In / Wild Boys / Sensitive To The Light / My Good Reputation / Last Forever / No Resistance / Bag On Your Head // Kick On The Upperclass / Liberation / We Don't Celebrate Sundays
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