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Planet Rocktober 2022 feat.

The Sweet/King King/When Rivers Meet/The Damn Truth @

O2 Academy, Sheffield, Saturday 22nd October, 2022

Is it really two years at least since the last one or should I say 1st Planet Rocktober? Yes, it seems it is, since they cancelled it last year sadly. The line-up  changed to what was originally proposed since Wilko Johnson has now sadly passed away and who knows what happened with regards to Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The whole night was compered by DJ Darren Redick of Planet Rock.

Set List: This Is Who We Are Now/Full On You/Lonely/Only Love/Look Innocent/Tomorrow.

Anyway, first up at the very early time of 5.30pm are a band that I knew I was going to look forward to after the Norwich boys had only reviewed them a few days previously, The Damn Truth from Montreal, Canada who comprise of Lee-la Baum (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Tom Shemerr (Lead Guitar/Vocals), PY Letellier (Bass/Vocals) and Dave Traina (Drums/Vocals).

From this band there were tons of personality, energy and charismatic joy that was emanating from the stage. They were literally enjoying every second they had on that stage. A set that was full-on hard rock with poses galore and expression throughout. It was their first time in the UK and they said how much they enjoyed being here.

A great sound was coming from them so big kudos to the engineers in here tonight and the group received an amazing reception from the crowd. What was nice to see was the fact that The Damn Truth had good lights a lot of time.

They have the audience going and singing within 1st couple of songs which are the throbbing and almost psychedelic blistering 'This Is Who We Are' and country-like 'Full On You' with its bluesy and funk edges.

Those here get engaged with the band visually quickly as they are encouraged to get their hands in air and clap along. Okay, so it was a bit sparce on attendance but the crowds immense volume and explosive reception completely made up for the fact. It's a very exuberant, full-on set which will have the band remembered with songs like 'Only Love' that is a beautiful, sweet and powerful anthem.

Such an extremely tight act and so together who vaguely remind me of Blues Pills but with a deeper dig into bluesier territory with numbers like 'Lonely' where Lee-la really resonates the stance and voice of rock royalty like Robert Plant and also puts me in mind of Janis Joplin with the addition of a rhythm guitar!

It sounds a cliché but I think they will go far if this was anything to go by. What a cracking start to Planet Rocktober!

Set List: Did I Break The Law/Walking On A Wire/My Babe Says That He Loves Me/Battleground/Don't Tell Me Goodbye/Free Man/Never Coming Home/Lost And Found/Innocence Of Youth/Want Your Love.

The same can be said for the next ones up, When Rivers Meet, from Essex, who again we previously covered in the last few months live in Norwich. I personally knew how good they were after reviewing their debut album a couple of years ago as well.

The band line-up is made up of married couple, Grace Bond (Lead Vocals/Mandolin/Violin) & Aaron Bond (Guitar/Vocals) alongside Roger Inniss (Bass Guitar) who has the most incredible CV including Mick Taylor (The Rolling Stones), Chaka Khan plus even BBCV TV's Pebble Mill to name but a few & James 'Foxy' Fox (Drums/Keyboards) of Modern One Man Band.

They delight us with their vibrant Americana based songs that are extremely fresh sounding and fall somewhere between blues, country, garage rock and industrial almost – think The White Stripes gone south with a healthy hit of Nashville in there with the banging opener, 'Did I Break The Law' taking an instant bow as it stood out so good. What a mind-blower when you hear Grace's voice – it's so powerful and dare I say unbelievable as well.

Next song is the gutsy 'Walking On A Wire' and later we are treated to notable highlights like the lovely ballad 'Don't Tell Me Goodbye' plus the fast Dixie groove of 'Never Coming Home'. There were sound issues when Grace first tried to crank up her mandolin and sadly with no stage tech in site had to abandon it because nothing could be heard from it at all thankfully the second one work without a problem later in the proceedings.

Further into the set, it made for something musically and visually special for all to witness with Aaron's Cigar Box Guitar being the icing on the already glistening cake with its gutsy, raw, distortive coolness for the earthy and ballsy 'Innocence Of Youth' and their spot finished off with the fluidity greatness of 'Want Your Love' complete with Grace on her violin which was quite spectacular sound-wise and visually.

We'll see them again in Sheffield in 2023 as part of an All-dayer – until then though, play their albums and EP's loud!

Set List: (She Don't) Gimme No Lovin'/Fire In My Soul/Rush Hour/A Long History Of Love/You Stopped The Rain (for Danny Bowes)/I Will Not Fall/Stranger To Love.

King King came on with main man, Alan Nimmo (Lead Vocals/Guitar) all kilted up like he does, expressing his Scottish roots and wearing them with pride. The rest of the group in standard dark jeans attire are made up of Andrew Scott (Drums), Jonny Dyke (Keyboards), Zander Greenshields (Bass) & Stevie Nimmo (Guitar/Backing Vocals).

A Lincoln band who have become well-known on the scene over the past few years that started off originally as The Nimmo Brothers, but now with Stevie being part of the group they now feature two Kings with the same surname.

Now I know it comes over rather lazy and cliched by stating that they really grabbed the audience and held them in the palm of their hands, but that's exactly what took place. The boys simply know how to embrace a crowd that either are familiar with their music and presence or not.

Their standard of performance is clinically perfect with warm heavy vibes filled with major positivity. Royal standard musical arrangements if I may say so with the quality of a band like Dire Straits with a more Celtic, Bluesier style.

Highlights of the 'Double K' set included the slipper stomping starter of a boppin' rocker '(She Don't) Gimme No Lovin' and newer cuts from their 'Maverick' album like 'Fire In My Soul' that would be perfect for an 80's Movie; the uplifting pop-rock of 'You Stopped The Rain' that they dedicated to the Thunder Frontman, Danny Bowes who is going through a lot right now.

Loved the long version of the hooktastic, very danceable 'I Will Not Fall' that came complete with cool soloing on the guitar and more... before ending on the fabulous 'Stranger To Love' that totally delivered the blues to the folk here in Sheffield tonight.

Set List: Action/New York Groove (Cover: Russ Ballard)/Hell Raiser/The Six Teens/Windy City/Set Me Free/Teenage Rampage/A.C.D.C./Love Is Like Oxygen/Fox On The Run.

Encore: Blockbuster/The Ballroom Blitz

Headlining Planet Rocktober tonight are a band that need no introduction because they are a household name and have been since their original incarnation in the early to late 1970's. Only Guitarist, Andy Scott remains from those days of The Sweet (originally formed in London) since the other three guys have sadly passed away, leaving him to carry the torch.

Taking care of the vocals is a guy who completely impressed us in his previous outfit, Cats In Space, Frontman, Paul Manzi (also formerly of Arena). He got all the crowd involved as soon he got onto the stage from the opening second of the first song which actually happened to be a cover of 'New York Groove' that was originally made famous by Ace Frehley and Hello! which I for one never expected.

The unit is completed by former Drummer of Praying Mantis & Statetrooper, Bruce Bisland, Lee Small (Bass/Backing Vocals also of SHY, Phenomena & Lionheart) & lastly but by no means leastly, Tom Cory (Guitars/Keyboards/Backing Vocals & also of Novatines, George Glew & Superlove).

As you can expect, we were treated to all their sugary glam classics like the pumping riotous 'Teenage Rampage', the well covered energetic 'Action', the cheesey but great 'Fox On The Run', the fast and heavy riffed 'Hell Raiser' and the marvellous number going by the name of 'The Six Teens'.

I loved the fact that they cranked out the controversial cut of its time 'AC/DC' about female bi-sexuality and the Brian Connolly swansong that is 'Love Is Like Oxygen' – a beauty of power-ballad if ever there was one with Paul and the rest of the guys really giving it full justice in all the right places.

The Sweet as they are now, broke away from the mould of being novelty has-beens by sticking later songs in their set that were of a heavier nature.  'Windy City' and 'Set Met Free' that has more in common musical with legends like Saxon, Iron Maiden or MSG. Mr. Scott said they had forthcoming studio album on its way that had been part-penned by Paul. This makes Mr. Manzi a true asset to the outfit and not just the guy with the mic!

Andy Scott is a happy old chappy, saying how much a mess the Government have made of the country thanks to Brexit, the Fuel Crisis, calling them a disgrace. I completely agree with you Mate! He went onto saying that they had a time limit to make way for the place being turned into a disco later. He did credit his band members who had stood by him for many years and the new boy in Mr. Manzi and informing us that he had health issues but was going to carry on regardless.

Overall it was a joyous set that celebrated both old and new material with all those hard-to-reach high-ended angelic harmonies intact that marvelled them above many other counterparts of their heyday with tight-to-the-point instrumental workings at all times.

The concert concludes with the well-known 'Blockbuster' with its classic riff that reminds us of a certain David Bowie number with that dazzling gem that is 'Ballroom Blitz' closing the night – this was a sure-fine fun party and we loved every part of it.

By Glenn Milligan

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