With temperatures rising across Tyneside who better to punctuate a balmy night than fired-up Swedes H.E.A.T?
Hailing from the same Stockholm suburb as hair metal heroes Europe it was clear where the polished quintet’s influences lay as they launched into 90 minutes of hard rock heaven.
All pouting lips, thrusting hips, singalong choruses and soaring solos it was like 1986 all over again – replete with the majority of the Mayfair hipsters from back in the day.
Fronted by Swedish Idol winner Erik Grunwall and boasting a latter-day Nuno Bettencourt in the shape of guitar hero Eric Rivers, it was immediately obvious H.E.A.T had more than enough to fans the flames of a frenzied Newcastle crowd.
Playing the city for the first time, four albums into a steadily improving career, this year’s Firefest headliners culled the very best of Grunwall-fronted albums Tearing Down The Walls and Address The Nation to confirm their burgeoning reputation as melodic rock’s next big thing.
Energised and enthused, H.E.A.T’s pace never slackened and the band later admitted they’d made a schoolboy error in never visiting the North East before.
Grunwall tasted reality television success by reintroducing a nation to classics from Skid Row, Iron Maiden and Kiss and it was clear all three bands and more had shaped the showmanship of a performer rooted in 80s excess.
The title track from Tearing Down The Walls, Point of No Return and In And Out Of Trouble galvanized five musicians clearly desperate to make their mark – and make up for lost time.
However, it was Rivers who stole the show during a dazzling version of Emergency as an epidemic of broken hearts struck down three generations of swooning rock chicks. H.E.A.T’s guitarist is the kind of hirsute hero every woman loves – and every man would love to be.
When Europe do decide to call it a day the successors to their pop rock throne are ready and waiting. H.E.A.T are red hot.
by Simon Rushworth