Southampton is used to the Scandinavian touch having had an IKEA in the city for a number of years now, and so the residents were out in force to enjoy some Swedish rock at Talking Heads.
“Hello Southampton, are you ready to rock?” may not have brought a big cheer from a somewhat reserved crowd at the start of the evening, but Nitrodive who were on their first visit to the UK soon won them over with with their set. It may have taken a couple of songs to get the crowd going but they soon warmed up as the band blasted the venue. It was the cover of the Ramones ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ that brought the crowd closer to the stage, which ended with a very well timed mirror of the guitars and drums, and ‘Dead Or Alive’ kept up the pace of this energetic set. Having an issue with a guitar strap led to an impromptu bass and drum jam, and the inevitable comment of “issues with his strap on”, and songs such as ‘Woman’ and ‘Some Day’ went down well. Nitrodive may have been relatively unknown to the crowd when they started but by the end of a great set, they had certainly gained a number of new fans.
Bonafide clearly had a number of fans in the crowd as they launched into the set after the quickest band change ever seen. With no messing it was straight into a fast-paced set and ‘Holding Down The Fort’ got the crowd moving along to the songs. With their classic rock sound and a touch of AC/DC about them at times, this was an excellent set from them, as singer Pontus Snibb told the crowd “this is a slow song” before turning up the heat with even more of their crunchy riffs this band do so well. Saying “Cheers” to the crowd before teaching them to say the Swedish version “Skål” led into ‘Rock And Roll Skål’ very nicely, and ‘50/50’ had the crowd clapping along, as well as delighting those there with ‘Don’t Talk About It’ and ‘Hard Living Man’, with everyone singing along to the chorus. With the singer weaving his way through the crowd whilst playing his guitar on one of their songs, this was a very entertaining set from them, but it was ‘Fill Your Head With Rock’ that brought with it a bit of fun, as Pontus got the crowd to sing along to the chorus, and to even up things a bit he also sang along to it without the microphone. He almost won but the crowd were just that little bit louder. Bonafide won hands down though for a set full of excellent rock.
Seeing that Hardcore Superstar were formed in 1997, it doesn’t take a lot of maths to work out singer Jocke Berg may not have seen his teenage years for a little while now, but he had the energy of a twenty year old, as he weaved, bounced, and with a certain amount of swagger, moved across the stage. Kicking off with an old favourite, ‘We Don’t Celebrate Sundays’, the crowd went wild as they were treated to rock Hardcore Superstar style, which meant it was loud, energetic, full of monster sounding guitars and vocals that soared around the venue. High-fiving those at the front during the set, with a new album due out in April, some of the new songs were played and ‘The Cemetery’ still had the crowd enjoying it with much enthusiasm. Easily switching between old and new songs, ‘Off With Their Heads’ was full of their signature sound before ‘My Good Reputation’ had the crowd singing along from the start, and with another new one ‘Touch The Sky’ this showed that the next album is going to be as brilliant as ever. ‘Dreamin’ In A Casket’ had the crowd singing along to the chorus into the microphone, as the band whipped up the crowd into a frenzy during ‘Party Til I’m Gone’ despite this being another new song from them. Checking that “Southampton, are you still there?”, as if Jocke really needed to make sure due to the amount of cheering every song brought with it, ‘Last Call For Alcohol’ made sure that the band knew the those there were still very much with them, as hands were raised, along with glasses. Then it all stopped suddenly mid-song, with a slightly bemused audience wondering what was happening, before the very tall Rick brought out a tray of shots for the band. Downing them in one, it was then straight back into where they left off to continue what by now had a party atmosphere to the evening, before leaving the stage to much applause.
Taking a considerably longer time than usually seen at the Talking Heads, and having exited into the smoking area outside the venue, you perhaps wondered if they were sneaking a quick cigarette or something in the time it took, but after much chanting by the crowd, four of the band finally returned for the encore, with their drummer making an even later appearance. However the crowd were very much rewarded by the wait when ‘Moonshine’ was the first song of the encore. But it was ‘Above The Law’ that really had the crowd moving along to it with now wild abandon, as middle fingers were proudly display during the chorus. Even more interesting to watching was the drum kit actually being dismantled during the song until only a couple of pieces of kit were left, one way to let the crowd know this is the final song of the evening, which brought to a close a set that had been thrilling to watch. Hardcore Superstar definitely ended their final UK tour date not just with a bang, but with an explosion that brought the house down.