Dirty Honey/Himalayas –
The Waterfront, Norwich, Saturday 21st January 2023
Set List: Leave This Place/Alone/Into The Trap/Out Of The Dark And Into The Light/Somebody Else/ Darkness Before The Dawn/Thank God I’m Not You/From Hell To Here/Gangsters Paradise.
The chasm between support and headliner could not be greater. It is like comparing the landscape of the Fens with that of Sheffield and the surrounding area. The Himalayas walked onto the stage with the guitarist catching the eye of the crowd. Beatles style hair with a half-open white shirt just gave an image to the band. Musically, Himalayas were really rocking, with their edgy lyrics being delivered really well.
Their line-up is Joe Williams (Lead Singer/Rhythm Guitar), Mike Griffiths (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Louis Heaps (Bass) & James Goulbourn (Drums) who have a mountain to climb to even come close to the presentation and power of Dirty Honey.
Maybe having an extra guitar player would give Joe a chance to interact with the crowd. As it is, they had a good sound and I appreciate it was the first night of the tour.
They didn’t stand out or have a chance of upstanding the headliner. Yes, that is a tall order especially with the excitement that is surrounding the headline act, but their performance lacked peaks and troughs and it all felt a bit flat.
I couldn’t help but be drawn to Mr. Williams. A great vocalist but not a great lead singer. He lacked a real stage presence due to grappling his guitar and fixating his eyes on the neck of it with every chord change, it stopped him making any eye contact with the audience making it feel really robotic.
I feel like he could easily become a good frontman by losing his instrument. Standout songs for me were ‘Thank God I’m Not You’ and ‘Into The Trap’. As Himalayas closed their set with a rather random ‘Gangsters Paradise’, I heard a member of the crowd shout “It’s time to get Dirty!” And he wasn’t wrong. The buzz had returned to the room.
They have a long way to go, but they were watched by a large audience who had arrived at the venue early to witness the future of Hard Rock.
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Set List: Gypsy/Break Through/Heartbreaker/The Wire/Scars/Tied Up/What Is And What Should Never Be/No Warning/Down The Road/Ride On/Let’s Go Crazy/Last Child/California Dreamin’/Another Last Time/When I’m Gone.
Encore: Rolling 7’s.
There is an enormous buzz about Dirty Honey, which is why we swarmed to the Waterfront, meaning the venue had to switch from the 350 capacity Studio to the 900-capacity main room.
The brilliant uplifting atmosphere around the venue was impossible to misplace. A lot of the audience had seen Dirty Honey support Rival Sons earlier in the year who almost out did their headliners. The crowd knew they were in for a treat. It is easy to see that if the support are aiming for Everest, then Dirty Honey will be shooting for the stars. This group have the potential to be huge. They fill the void between AC/DC and Aerosmith.
I have witnessed them previously when they gave Rival Sons a run for their money at Norwich LCR. There is simply no doubting their live credentials, so for now it is all about the second album, which will surely catapult them to mega stardom! But let’s talk about tonight’s incredible display at the Waterfront, which will be talked about for years. Believe me when I say; you will never see them at these size venues ever again, Hammersmith Apollo size will be the next step.
After a small wait, the lights dimmed and we heard the riff of ‘Gypsy’ before Lead Singer, Marc Labelle enters to an eruption of joy. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the majority of people around me singing along. The presence of this band is something to idolise.
I’m not joking when I think these could finally be one of those bands that brings a new generation of rock fans. Whilst looking around the venue it confirmed that feeling; a young lad’s first concert, an 82-year-old man, middle aged rockers, fangirling teens. It’s an impressive spectrum of audience to have. And on their first UK tour!
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‘Heartbreaker’ stood out to me as one of those songs where the whole audience was enticed by the band. The way Marc caressed the mic-stand and tilted his sunglasses down to make eye-contact, this is the kind of charismatic energy you get from David Lee Roth or even the late, Ronnie James Dio.
The stage isn’t big enough at the Waterfront for Dirty Honey to produce what they are able to but that’s a compliment to them. After 4 songs of pure energy and confidence, they looked too big for the stage. Trying to imagine Def Leppard is difficult, but this the scale I’m talking about! Others around were chatting between songs and all blown away by just how good Dirty Honey are. We were all agreeing that they are going to find mega stardom.
Marc has such a magnetic energy. With a cowboy hat and sunglasses appearance, he almost looks like the personification of Glam Rock. I witnessed these as the Second stage opener at Download 2022 and even then, playing to a small morning audience, they were just incredible.
In particular, Marc’s delivery of lines and body movements are just impossible not to look at and listen to. I personally think Dirty Honey need a few better songs to really show off the capabilities of his vocals.
Justin Smolian on Bass Guitar has such a powerful presence. He gives off an aura of an Unmasked Gene Simmons mixed with Slash. His facial expressions and just the pure size of him constantly finds you looking his way. Lead Guitarist, John Notto plays his part exceptionally well, as does new Drummer, Jaydon Bean.
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At the end of the show, everyone was a mixture of ecstatic and disappointed. Everyone seemed to think it had finished too soon. So, if Dirty Honey are reading this: Get writing! We all want longer than a 75-minute set!
Review By Paul 'Rhino' Mace & James Mace
Photographs By Paul Mace