Live: Sweet

The Waterfront, Norwich December 11, 2022

by Adam Gibson

A call of “We need more fucking lights on this stage” from Andy Scott after opening song Action followed by an apology for his ailments is the only indication the guitarist has any, thanks to a rip-roaring tour through Sweet’s catalogue.

“Do you want any action?” is the question we’re asked by frontman Paul Manzi – and we are treated to loads of it, with the focus inevitably on the glam-rockers’ string of 70s hits.

It's in the can: Andy Scott (Picture: Laurence Harvey Photography)
It’s in the can: Andy Scott (Picture: Laurence Harvey Photography)

Contemporary twists are seamlessly woven into the set. New York Groove is lit up with bassist Lee Small’s brilliantly Jay-Z-esque rendition of Empire State Of Mind’s chorus, making it powerfully clear why his accidental arrival as a singer in 1989 was a fortuitous event.

An admission that Scott doesn’t “know many stories about Norwich” draws nothing but calls for Teenage Rampage rather than the heckling that might be aimed at someone less respected.

Bruce Bisland: 30 years and counting (Picture: Laurence Harvey Photography)
Bruce Bisland: 30 years and counting (Picture: Laurence Harvey Photography)

And the response to political jabs at Ian Paisley and others shows that everyone is onside and hanging on every word as well as each rift.

“Play something we know!” banter is described as the “best comment in 50 years”, and after Love Is Like Oxygen we’re told that Sweet are nothing without their fans.

Frontman Paul Manzi (Picture: Laurence Harvey Photography)
Frontman Paul Manzi (Picture: Laurence Harvey Photography)

The songs are as fresh as ever, especially first encore Blockbuster, which – unlike the collapsed video rental chain – has stood the test of time for these veterans.

And veterans they surely are. Bruce Bisland has been behind the drum kit for three decades, and Scott tops that with 52 years as the main man.

Powerful: Lee Small (Picture: Laurence Harvey Photography)
Powerful: Lee Small (Picture: Laurence Harvey Photography)

By the time we get to Ballroom Blitz (this is the sort of ballroom they need on Shitly) the polish that comes from performing together for so many years is plain to see.

Sweet show no sign of stopping, either.

It’s almost a year to the day since they last played here – how about making it an annual event?

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