||MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
THE HEAVY METAL KIDS
Merton Manor Club, London
Photos and videos by Sally Newhouse
The Heavy Metal Kids released a string of highly influential albums in the seventies with the now sadly departed and legendary singer and actor Gary Holton. Since reforming in 2002 the band have had a few different faces fronting the band including former UFO keyboardist Danny Peyronel and more controversially former Eastenders actor John Altman who played Nasty Nick in the show.
LA Guns vocalist Phil Lewis fronted the band for a few select shows in 2010 whilst Justin McConville has been the vocalist and guitarist for the Kids for the past couple of years including the support slot they did with UFO in 2011.
Tonight the Heavy Metal Kids were debuting new singer Paul Manzi, a versatile singer who has pedigree and is better known in the progressive rock field having performed with Barchetta, Oliver Wakeman and more recently in Arena as well as spending time with HM Kid Cosmo in Raw Glory.
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The gig was a warm up show before the next day's appearance at the Weyfest. Along with Manzi the current line-up of the Heavy Metal Kids includes drummer Keith Boyce, guitarists Cosmo and Justin McConville and bassist Ronnie Garity. Until recently McConville has been handling the vocals duties but the introduction of Paul Manzi gave the Heavy Metal Kids an added extra dimension.
Support band The Phobics came from the darkest depths of Deptford and the Sarf Londoners played a highly energised set of old school punk with a dash of rhythm and blues. Built from a vagabond of misfits The Phobics were certainly not faking it and had some cushty little numbers in their set like their ode to SE8 in 'Down And Out In Deptford' and the fast paced singing of 'Midnight Milkshake'. This time next year, they'll be millionaires. A great outfit.
The Heavy Metal Kids hit the right buttons by blasting into openers 'Hanging' On' and 'Blow It All Away'. All eyes were on Paul Manzi and depsite his progressive rock background is actually more suited to this style of music dressed in the rock n' roll attire of jeans and torn black t-shirt and his dark curly locks complete the look. Manzi stamps his own identity to the songs and give the Kids a more straight forward down the line approach.
Justin McConville had more room to manoeuvre jumping up and down as if he's stepping on hot coals. McConville was also wearing one of Gary Holtons vintage jackets with skyscraper artwork on the back. 'Rock N' Roll Outlaw' was a surprising cover originally done by Rose Tattoo and more recently covered by Irish rockers The Answer.
A comedy moment and theatrical ingenuity by the promoter Gary McCulloch and his sidekick, lights man Mark Lewis, during 'The Cops Are Coming' when a decapitated head was lowered from the ceiling for Manzi to headbutt. A genius piece of Spinal Tap at it's finest saw the innovators laughing their heads off for the rest of the gig.
Paul Manzi expressed himself even further on the corking 'Squalliday Inn' and the mighty ballad 'The Big Fire'. Gary Holton's wife Donna joined the band on stage for the sublime 'She's No Angel' and 'Delirious' rounded off the set in a rousing fashion.
The Kids are alright, this is one band that will hopefully never grow up!