The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton is the stage for tonight’s pre Sonisphere warm up gigs for Black Country metal legends Diamond Head kicking off on Friday at Knebworth, and Saturday at Amneville, France. They will be taking the stage with “The Big 4” Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax before undertaking a 17 date headlining tour of the States next month. If that wasn’t enough they were presented with a Metal Hammer Golden God award in June.
30 years ago Diamond Head were one of the leading members in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). They joined a list of now legendary rock bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Motorhead, and early Def Leppard. As these bands rocketed to dizzy heights it never seemed to happen to the lads from Stourbridge.
It’s Ironic now that the biggest metal bands on the planet, Metallica and Megadeth say Diamond Head were a major influence early in their careers. Metallica have covered four of their songs and drummer Lars Ulrich said that Diamond Head wrote “some of the greatest Heavy Metal songs of all time".
Brian Tattler (Guitar) is the only remaining member of the original band but this latest incarnation has been together since 2006 with members Nick Tart (Vocals), Karl Wilcox (Drums), Eddie Moohan (Bass) and Andy “Abbz” Abberley (Guitar).
Without a new album to promote I hoped this was going to be a set of Diamond Head classic tunes and I wasn’t wrong! “Holst’s The Planets bellows from the P.A and the band launch into Play it Loud, Nothing To Lose, and To Heaven From Hell from the Canterbury album. The band look fresh and fired up. Nick Tart is constantly on the move around the very cramped stage, Moohan and Abberley are a fine double act and Karl Wilcox hammers the skins to within an inch of their lives! Tart introduces Dead Reckoning a song we are informed hasn’t been played live since about 1982, Pray For Me from the 2007 release What’s In Your Head? and To The Devil His Due. Tart mixes the old songs with the new seamlessly, and sings them as if they are his own, full of passion, and integrity. Brian Tattler’s guitar work is has good today as ever, and you can see why he has influenced so many guitarists, riff after riff; solo after solo he’s faultless!
The final half of the set is what they will be performing at Sonisphere and it’s a very special 30 minutes. It opens with It’s Electric and is basically the White Album in it’s entirety bar Sweet and Innocent. “Are you evil”? Tart shouts! It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for. The crowd are whipped into fever pitch frenzy! I haven’t seen headbanging at a gig on this scale for years, one guy at the front will wake with a severe headache this morning and it’s eight minutes of shear brilliance! The band briefly leaves the stage and return to encore with Call Me and Lightning To The Nations.
Tonight we have witnessed, not just a “warm up gig,” but a true professional performance. The final 30 minutes were truly excellent, and worth the entrance fee alone! I just hope Diamond Head can find the time to get together to record another album, but with two members living on opposite ends of the earth it's going to take a lot of effort. Diamond Head have been putting the effort in for the last 30 years that’s why they are still here and performing on the largest stages with the biggest metal bands on the planet!
Photographs © Mark Howell Photography