Diamond Head @ O2 Academy, Bristol – 24 February 2010

Tonight – while the Bristol O2 Academy plays host to Swedish rockers Europe – I can’t help but be a little more excited about their support act, the legendary Diamond Head.

Formed in 1976, Diamond Head were one of the leading members of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Their unique sound and quality of song writing gained enough attention to tour as support with AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

With their 1980 debut album ‘Lightning to the Nations’ recorded on their own label Happy Face Records, followed by ‘Borrowed Time’ and ‘Canterbury’ released on MCA Records, many reasons have been attributed to why Diamond Head never made the most of their potential.

They open with ‘It’s Electric’ from their debut LP, followed by ‘Give it to Me’ released 25 years later from the album ‘All Will Be Revealed’. This maybe “just the support band” tonight, but it’s a celebration of one of the most influential bands of a genre, acknowledged by bands such as Metallica, Exodus and Megadeth.

Guitarist Brian Tatler, the only remaining original member, has put together a group worthy of carrying on the legacy of the band. Nick Tart will undoubtedly always be compared to original vocalist Sean Harris, who departed in 2004, but tracks such as ‘Give it to Me’ and ‘Alimony’ from the 2005 album ‘All Will be Revealed’ are testament to Nick’s outstanding vocal talent.

Classic tracks ‘Call Me’ and ‘Sucking My Love’ stand the test of time, and ultimately proceedings are brought to a close with a rousing rendition of ‘Am I Evil?’, one of numerous Diamond Head tracks covered and distinguished by Metallica.

It’s brief, but it’s an awesome pleasure – to watch Tatler & Co. So much so, that for a while I completely forget that there is a headline act to follow.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston