Skid Row – Backyard Babies – H.E.A.T - Vega - Live Review - O2 Academy - Bristol
Skid Row – Backyard Babies – H.E.A.T - Vega - Live Review - O2 Academy - Bristol
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First up, the 6 piece UK based melodic rock outfit Vega. A sea of denim cut offs, camo prints and leather span the platform as they play a steady set of songs from their 5-album career. The band keep a balanced act of audience participation with requests for the lower floor, then upper balcony crowd to shout and cheer. Singer Nick Workman makes the most of the stage with plenty of strutting whilst singing and the band play each song with feeling whilst the audience warm up into movement. The set is peppered with impressive guitar solos from Marcus Thurston and Michael Kew, keyboard playing from James Martin and drumming from Martin Hutchinson. The song ‘Saving Grace’ from the album Who We Are begins with a perfectly held high note and which, being the last song of the set, somewhat showcases the singer’s remarkable lung capacity and stamina. This is feel-good music.  Find out more at:


“The heat is on” by Glenn Frey is played across the speakers and the lights are dimmed. Suddenly the wild 5-piece Swedish band that are H.E.A.T take to the stage and the energy is hyped from there on in. There is no taming this bands enthusiasm and luckily their musical talents can keep up.   As the singer – bleach-blond mohawked -Erik Gronwell begins jumping, clapping and shaking his way across the stage the audience join in with his moves and he is soon leaping to and from the stage to the barriers and even over them, headbanging with the crowd in time to the chunky tunes being slammed out. The Drummer known simply as Crash, spends most of his time hidden beneath an impressive amount of long brown hair – at one point even requiring a roadie to untangle him so that he can see again. Bassist Jimmy Jay and Keyboard player Jona Tee have fixed grins on their faces throughout the set, even when providing backing vocals and it’s no surprise really, given the feral stage show being performed by the singer who just does not stop moving. The bands raw and dirty rock n’ roll sound fits perfectly as EG mock-performs suggestive acts on guitarist Dave Dalone as he rips into his guitar solos. He then rolls head-over heels back onto his feet and “borrows” a front row fan’s camera phone on which he films himself and the crowd before tucking it squarely down the front of his skin-tight jeans and continuing his gyrations. By the end of the set the singer is stripped to just jeans and boots, the phone has been returned to its owner and the audience is fully engrossed. This band are pure (but perhaps not so wholesome!) entertainment.   Well worth seeing live. Find out more at:


The 4-piece band arrive on stage to a chorus of cheers from the audience and launch straight in to a powerful flow of Punk-Rock and Roll.   The set is solid, the musicians are skilful. This band are clearly experienced and adept at moving between acoustic softer-sounding 2 player songs (featuring just vocals and guitar) as well as heavier sounds which massively increase in volume as they go. The crowd are involved, encouraged, ready and willing to rock along to each and every moment. There is pint swigging as amps are adjusted and every bit of atmosphere you could wish for is conjured up on the stage naturally through the band member’s individual images. There is ponytailed and undercut singer / guitarist– Nicke Borg wearing swathes of scarves and bejewelled guitar straps, bearded and braided drummer – Peder Carlsson, beret & bandana wearing lead guitarist Dregen and long-haired leather-jacketed bass player Johan Blomquist. The band are fun, focused and incredibly talented. These Swedish Rockers are not to be overlooked and as the set comes to a close with the song ‘Good Morning Midnight’ from their upcoming album Sliver & Gold (due to be released 1st March 2019) the crowd are quite clearly up for hearing more. Find out more at:


The 5-piece headline act break on to stage with the powerful 1991 album title track ‘Slave to the grind’ and the cheers are deafening. There is no pause for air as hipster-jean wearing singer ZP Theart throws a criss cross of 2 bottles of water into the heated crowd. The band tear through an abundance of songs from their 30-year-old self-titled album Skid Row with every bit as much fury as the day it was released, as well as a large handful of songs from the mighty impressive 1991 album Slave to the Grind. The band line-up may have changed slightly over the years with singer ZPT since 2016 and drummer Rob Hammersmith since 2010 – but their sound is unmistakable. During the set, band members take turns to address the crowd, with ZPT asking for the house lights to go up momentarily so that the band they may see their audience properly.   Punky looking bass player Rachel Bolan, with his trademark nose-to-ear chain and chaine-maille flames hanging from his belt, addresses the crowd, checking out the T-shirts he can see – GN’R, WASP, Alice Cooper, Metallica, Slayer and of course lots of Skid Row – “Thank you!” he drawls “I love Bristol, you guys never let us down.” The band perform their superb cover of The Ramones ‘Psycho Therapy’ from their B-Side Ourselves album as just a 4-player machine, with RB leading the vocals. There is a small break as an acoustic guitar on a stand is brought onto stage during which it is guitarist Dave Sabo’s turn to talk to the crowd before demonstrating his remarkable ability to switch speedily between acoustic and electric guitar playing throughout the song ‘I remember you.’ This song also has the singer reaching the high pitch that the song demands with outward ease, infact ZPT’s voice moves naturally throughout the slow and fast and both the high and the low songs in the inspiring set list and he is clearly at home with being the Frontman as the crowd sing along. With the final song ‘Youth Gone Wild’ Guitarist Scotti Hill takes to the centre stage platform, his hair blowing wildly in the breeze of the fans and his facial expressions playfully mimicking every note of the solo he plays. This has been an almighty set and the musicians have been nothing short of incredible. A final mention of a new album due to be completed this summer has both the audience and the band beaming with smiles. Find out more at:

SKID ROW Set List:

Slave to the grind

Big guns

Let’s go

Sweet little sister

18 & life

Piece of me

Livin’ on a chain gang


Psycho therapy

I remember you

Monkey business

Makin a mess



In a darkened room

Youth gone wild

Live Review : Suzi Bootz

Photography : Emma Panter 

Pacific Curd Photography



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