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Artist: Slade, Sons Of The Seventies

Venue: Cardiff, Tramshed

Date: 18 December 2023

"‘Take Me Back ‘Ome’ opens the sixteen song set, with John Berry on fine voice and Dave Hill grinning like a loon, flashing his cheesy grin at every opportunity."


Fresh from hosting The Sweet last night, the Tramshed welcomes another set of golden oldies in the shape of Slade, and like Sweet there’s just the one remaining original member, the inimitable Dave Hill, he of the small stature and big personality. First, though, there’s Sons Of The Seventies, a covers band who, unsurprisingly, chuck out a bunch of seventies songs at the sizeable crowd. They concentrate on the Rock side of the decade and, whilst it’s odd seeing a covers band support someone like Slade, it’s unsurprising that they’ve been doing this on every tour for the last five years now. Of note is the fantastic version of ‘Highway Star’, which sees the guitarist on keyboards until the break when he comes back and joins in with the lead singer (also on guitar) for a blistering twin guitar solo. Add to this ‘Fool For Your Loving’, ‘My Sharona’, ‘Ballroom Blitz’ and more and you have a really enjoyable forty five minutes that really got the crown jumping and ready for the headliners.

There are some (well, quite a few) miserable bastards online who bemoan that this isn’t Slade as it’s only Dave Hill, and you can’t be Slade without Noddy and blah blah blah... but sod ‘em. This year marks Hill’s sixtieth year as a professional musician, and fifty years since the release of seminal number one single ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, and if he wants to call his band Slade then I’m fine with that. After all, music is a business, and bums on seats count. Anyway, now that rant’s over (chatting with fellow attendees in the break gets a similar opinion to mine) it’s time for Slade, and with a wealth of amazing songs to choose from we’re all geared up for a quality night.

‘Take Me Back ‘Ome’ opens the sixteen song set, with John Berry on fine voice and Dave Hill grinning like a loon, flashing his cheesy grin at every opportunity. From further back in the venue they present a slightly comical sight, as Hill is a good foot shorter than Berry and keyboard player Russell Keefe on either side of him, and it’s only when he gets on the conveniently placed boxes by the monitors that the audience sees him. Mind you, he does it a lot, taking every opportunity to basically show off, have a laugh and occasionally deliver a heartfelt monologue. At a few points he even does a high kick whilst playing, no mean feat for a seventy-seven year old! Whilst Hill is small in stature his guitar sound is massive, and when he peels off a solo it’s magical indeed. Elsewhere, the vocals are split between Berry and Keefe, and I have to admit that when Keefe takes over it’s not as good. His croaky voice is okay at best, and whilst I can understand Berry may not like doing certain songs, like ‘Lock Up Your Daughters’ or ‘Run Run Away’ to name two, it may be that what Slade really need is a separate vocalist who can belt out everything just like Uncle Neville used to.

It’s still a great set, though, with the audience singing away to the likes of ‘Everyday’, ‘Far Far Away’ and the classic ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’ (my spellcheck HATES Slade). Encore opener ‘My Oh My’, the number one that never was, has everyone swaying and singing, and they naturally finish off with ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ and THAT Christmas song. They leave a lot of smiling faces behind them, and I’m in no doubt that Dave Hill is still the star on the Christmas tree as far as I’m concerned. We were all slayed tonight, and we bloody loved it.


Review by Alan Holloway




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