H.E.A.T. with support act Superscar, 29 March 2013, On The Rocks
Young Swedish melodic rock heroes H.E.A.T. have gone from strength to strength since the release of their debut album in 2008. Their second album "Freedom Rock" was preceded by a massive hit "1000 Miles", which was their entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. Some people were predicting imminent world domination for them, but the promotional efforts to support "Freedom Rock" suffered a major setback, when vocalist Kenny Lacremo quit the band. The band were determined to overcome this obstacle and indeed they did, recruiting the 2009 Swedish Idol winner Erik Gršnwall as their new singer. The first album of this new line-up, "Address The Nation" proved to be a success and re-established the band as one of the biggest "new hopes" for the AOR genre.
A year after the release of "Address The Nation", H.E.A.T. are still on the road supporting it, and now they finally found their way to Finland. A day before the gig we attended the band had made their Finnish debut in Järvenpää, and the comments of that gig were nothing short of spectacular. People who had seen hundreds of gigs called it "one of the best gigs ever". The place had been far from sold out, yet the band gave a 100% performance and played a long set. The expectations were high, but there was also a question whether the band had used all of their ammo for the first Finnish assault.
When the band took over the On The Rocks stage a few minutes past midnight, it soon became evident that they had recharged their batteries, re-loaded their guns and were ready to conquer the place. "Breaking The Silence" was the obvious opening track, and the crowd was totally into it from the start. Sometimes it takes a few songs for the crowd to warm up, but there was no need to wait with H.E.A.T. radiating from the stage. Yes, the heat was truly on...
Once the silence was broken, the band continued with hard rockin' hits such as "Better Off Alone", "1000 Miles" and "Straight For Your Heart". Even though the whole band was pretty lively on stage, it was Erik G. who ruled the stage. The music seems to flow through him, keeping him in constant motion, and he poured endless amounts of emotion into every line he sang. No wonder he impressed the judges of Swedish Idol and the Swedish TV audience back in 2009, he truly is a star. Let's be grateful that he didn't get swallowed by the merciless mainstream pop machine and found a good home in H.E.A.T.!
A sign of a good live band is when they can elevate songs to a new level in a live setting. I don't consider "Late Night Lady", "Straight Up" or "Beg Beg Beg" as the band's stronger songs, but they turned out to be good live songs, especially the hyper-energetic "Beg Beg Beg".
Eight out of the ten songs off "Address The Nation" album were in the setlist, and deservedly so I'd say. It's my favourite album of 2012, and each one of the songs sounded great live. Okay, maybe "In And Out Of Trouble" lost some of its' magic because there was no saxophone, but at least they didn't revert to using a sax player from a laptop... Anyway, "Living On The Run", "Heartbreaker" and "Falling Down" (co-written by Hardcore Superstar members) were among the highlights of the night for me, and by looking at the faces in the crowd, they were very appreciated by others too.
Erik's solo acoustic number "We're Gonna Make It To The End" was another breather in the otherwise very intense setlist. Apparently he had some guitar trouble towards the end of the song, but keyboard player Jona Tee came to the rescue and added his textures to it. "Who Will Stop The Rain" ended the main set, but the band didn't even try to fool us that they were done, there were still some key songs that had to be played - the first album's hits "There For You" and "Keep On Dreaming" and the second single off "ATN" - "It's All About Tonight".
With a 19-song setlist I'm sure everyone who attended the gig would agree that we got more than our money's worth. If the band's career keeps on moving forward as it should, I hope that the next time we'll see this band in Finland they'll be playing to a much bigger crowd on a much bigger stage. Maybe these three intimate gigs will get a legendary status over the years...
The support act of the gig was a Finnish band called SUPERSCAR. They played their set to a half-empty club and sounded nice enough, but I didn't think they were really a good match. Some songs reminded me of Sunrise Avenue who they had just supported in Germany, while others had a bit of a U2 or Coldplay-vibe. It might have worked better to all parties if the support act had been more similar to the headliners.