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Sunday 18 December 2022

The Sweet

Tonight I am at the last night of the Sweet's ‘Unlock the Rock’ Tour at Rock City along with L. Support is from Stoke-on-Trent’s Kira Mac or at least two fifths of them. Vocalist Rhiannon Hill, hereafter known as Kira Mac, is very apologetic as she explains this and for the lack of their usual electric sound. Tonight, with her perched on a stool alongside Joe Worrall on guitar, it is very much an acoustic show but as she says when The Sweet ask you don’t say no. 


She has quite a soulful voice which sort of makes you curious as to what the full band would sound like. Very different I would imagine. She is chatty and explains what many of the songs are about. Often it appears they are about either her own terrible taste in men or that of her friends!

After a short break the chants of ‘We want The Sweet’ start up and then suddenly we are into ‘Action’. Which takes us back to 1975 when I was eight. So I can't claim to have seen the Sweet in their heyday, I'm far too young, but they did headline Trent Polytechnic's student Christmas Party at the Nottingham Palais in December 1985 supported by fellow 70’s icons Mud.


By then the band had assailed the heights of popularity before plummeting back down the other side amid acrimony and alcohol. So I am not sure if that was Brian Connelly's version of the band or Andy Scott's as two versions of The Sweet were doing the rounds at the time. I suspect it was the former. Tonight it is obviously Andy Scott's as he is sadly the last man standing of the original four members of the band.

Tonight Scott is joined by long-time musical partner Bruce Bisland on drums, the energetic Paul Manzi on vocals and Lee Small on bass plus an additional guitarist for when Scott’s ageing fingers can’t quite do everything.


After a detour into Russ Ballard’s ‘New York Groove’, a song largely made famous by Ace Frehley of Kiss, the nostalgia trip continued with ‘Hell Raiser’. Those two songs seemed to highlight two things. Firstly the band had quite a few huge hits back in the day but also they soon stopped having them and therefore there isn’t enough well known material to do a long set. Therefore there’s just fifteen songs tonight and a middle section of lesser known material that causes proceedings to labour a touch. Not that many of the crowd, mostly regulars one feels, seem to mind too much.

The band don’t, interestingly, go back to 1971 to play the rather twee songs ‘Funny, Funny’ and ‘Co-Co’ but we do get ‘Wig Wam Bam’ and ‘Little Willy’ towards the end of the set. 

Scott successfully fills any void with some excellent banter and also tells us that we were listening to the band’s new single ‘Don’t Bring Me Water’ over the PA before they came on. There is also an album called ‘Paradox’ to follow. That’s not bad from a man who referred to himself as the only person in the room born in the 1940s.

Of course there’s still loads of the really good stuff - ‘Teenage Rampage’, ‘Love Is Like Oxygen, ‘The Six Teens’ and ‘Fox on the Run’ with ‘Blockbuster’ and ‘The Ballroom Blitz’ held back for the encore to end an excellent night.

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