‘Woargh!’ and ‘Kerrang!’ It’s been a long time since I had hair long enough to shake it. Luckily though I still have my ‘Air Guitar’, because Tuesday night was Metal Night at the Harmonie as Swedens finest Bonafide made a welcome return courtesy of Mr Music.
“The thrill before the lights go bright – this is the reason why I live…” – from ‘No Doubt About It’
Unusual to start the review of a Hard Rock gig by quoting song lyrics I guess, but then frontman Pontus Snibb is a rather unusual metal man. The ‘Head’ of the band, Pontus is responsible for most of the original songs, he’s also got his own band project ‘PS3’ going, and despite being the lead guitarist he is I’m told an even better drummer than he is with six strings. I’m also assured that he’s a nice guy. Which brings me to another lyric, written by Rose Tattoo but sung by Bonafide, “Nice boys don’t play rock n roll!”.
Lots of conundrums to be addressed tonight then. Maybe I’ll also get a chance to ask what ‘Bombo’ the title of the new CD means. It’s ‘Mosh’ time down by the ‘Pit’now though just like the old days…
Okay, own up time. I spent a lot of my 70’s Rock concert attendance actually with a seat on the balcony – happy to watch other people frenziedly remove seats and fittings from the stage front of the Guildhall whilst the likes of Sammy Hagar responded to pleas for turning it up by, you guessed, cranking up the volume. ‘Some like it hot. I like it red’ as he famously put it.
Upping the decibels is a tricky option in Bonn these days of course. The opener, ‘Bombo’ is loud enough though, and Bonafide really don’t need to blast their way to our hearts. They are as it happens an excellent musical combo with a lot of good riffy songs in the AC/DC meets Status Quo and goes down to the pub to meet meet Thin Lizzy style. I addition they possess a couple of absolute diamonds in the shape of ‘No Doubt About It’ and one of the best Hard n Heavy anthems ever written: ‘Fill Your Head With Rock’. A classic that the likes of Rossi, Young, Coverdale or Lynott would happily have created.
For the most part though the evening is rather like stepping back into the Hard Rock scene of the mid 70’s. Snibb and co know their rockstar poses as sure as they know their riffs. The latter are displayed mid concert in a ‘name that tune’ segment but also surface obliquely every now and then such as the swirling ‘Won’t get fooled again’ style intro to ‘Dirtbound’ or the nearest this band comes to a ballad – the anthemic ‘Harmony’ with it’s Coverdale/Whitesnake echoes (and listening to this on CD you might even think it’s Mr Coverdale on vocals, which is a credit indeed to Mr Snibbs tonsils).
If I’m hypercritical I would have liked a bit more light and shade in the songs. Every top Rock band has it’s classic ballad and Bonafide seem to lack one, although ‘Harmony’ comes close. It makes the constant metal rain seem unrelenting. It’s early days yet though for the band and in the meantime they sure pack a punch – so much so that Steve Marriot’s classic ‘Don’t need no Doctor’ could easily have been taken as one of their own songs if not for Snibb’s acknowledgement of being a great Humble Pie fan.
It seems fitting to finish with a return to where my review started – with lyrics to ‘No doubt about it’ but now I have the addition of an image firmly in my head from the evenings show. Pontus Snibb in full flight onstage, upping the adrenalin as he proudly proclaims
“This is the reason why I live”.
and then pokes an accusing finger out from one part of the audience to the next as he shouts
“and it involves you, and you, and you and you…!”
The merchandise stall may be selling band name stamped condoms instead of band logos on cloth patches, but some things remain true to the Hard Rock halcyon days of the 70’s – there’s no ‘Rocket Science’ involved, it’s all about both band and audience connecting: to have a beer, have a dance, and simply Fill their heads with Rock.