Late replacement for Limehouse Lizzy, It could have been tricky for Troy Redfern here, a crowd that was after all looking forward to a set of classic songs, gets someone they might not know. If he was concerned he need not have been. His slot here is similar to the one that I’d seen him do in the autumn with Robert Jon And The Wreck, that is to say, he’s playing his songs solo and in the raw. What that means is he sounds incredibly primal in a way that he doesn’t with a band. The songs from his most recently released record, “The Fire Cosmic”, both “Sanctify” and “Waiting For Your Love” are cases in point, as they take a totally different path it seems. What it cannot mask, though, is the power of his songwriting. And MV’s long held belief that a great song can be played in any fashion and still sound great holds true here. He finishes, as he often does, with “Voodoo Chile” (“the song that made me pick up the guitar”)  and manages to find a new way to make that sound too. It’s hard to say which version of Troy Redfern is better of the two: the band one or the solo one, and that’s to his credit. Whichever one it is, though, what is clear is that he is a serious talent.

Troy Redfern – Haluk Gurer

About halfway into this set here, Paul Manzi (and whether we can call him the “new” singer in Sweet after three years is a debate) says, “right then, Birmingham! Imagine it’s the 70s, and you’re at Top Of The Pops!” and with that, the crowd chant begins: “We want Sweet, we want Sweet!” And, all of a sudden, there’s a sense that this goes from a fine gig to something just a little bit more.

They’d just done a medley of “Wig Wam Bam/Little Willie” (you perhaps don’t want to get the latter stuck in your head in 2021 for feat of funny looks) and after the chant they race through “Teenage Rampage”.

Even in my mid-40s I am amongst the youngest here, so the days of teenage anything are way in the past. I don’t even say that facetiously either, more to talk about the crowd reaction as about 1000 people in the beautiful Birmingham Town Hall go crazy, but even more to talk about the longevity of the band.

At 8.30 they’d sort of shambled out, Andy Scott, second to last, pretending to look sheepish in case there was no one in, and the man who is basically “Mr Sweet” and has been for over 50 years, plays the riff that heralds “Action”, and its aptly named too, because for 90 minutes this is action packed and superbly paced.

“The New York Groove”, well, grooves (I was going to say “stomped” but they all stomp, listen to “Hell Raiser” and you almost can’t stop stomping yourself) but what is perhaps most interesting is that for every hit – “The Six Teens” for example – there’s some other stuff too.

A couple from their greatest hits collection “The Ultimate Story” (“did you buy it? Enquires Scott. “No? It’s a good job the effing Germans did then!”) and both “Defender” and “Everything” are tremendous and perhaps shows, as Scott says a couple of times, that this is a group that’s looking forward.

“Windy City” a fan favourite, back for this tour on request, but there’s a race to the end that “….Bam” and the rest usher in. “Love Is Like Oxygen” is combined marvellously with “Fanfare For The Common Man” as Tom, the young keyboard player and guitarist that is a vital part of the band excels, and “Fox On The Run” ends the show.

Except it doesn’t. Everyone knows there’s two more coming. “Blockbuster” is just that and there’s one about a man at the back and everyone attacking, or something, and lets be fair, that song is precisely one year older than me and if it came out tomorrow I’d buy the thing and it’d still be a classic. And yes I was 16 when Wayne’s World came out, I didn’t know it was a cover when she did it….

The Sweet are a fabulous band, that’s kind of a given. You don’t get to do this for over 50 years if you aren’t, you don’t get a string of hit singles as long as your arm and you don’t get people this excited. However, there’s something more and its something Andy Scott said when he introduced the band: “We have a laugh, now” he told the crowd. That’s more important than you think, because when a superb band is happy and contented and its line up is the best in years, nights like this are the end result.





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Shrewsbury, The Buttermarket

Friday 3 December 2021

Bexhill, De La Warr Pavilion

Saturday 4 December 2021

Norwich, The Waterfront

Sunday 5 December 2021

Newcastle, Boiler Shop

Wednesday 8 December 2021

Glasgow, The Garage

Thursday 9 December 2021

Edinburgh, Queen’s Hall

Friday 10 December 2021

Holmfirth, Picturedrome

Saturday 11 December 2021

Cardiff, University SU

Friday 17 December 2021

Manchester, Academy

Saturday 18 December 2021

Nottingham, Rock City

Sunday 19 December 2021

Bury St Edmunds, The Apex

Monday 20 December 2021


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