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O2 ABC, Glasgow
Monday 23rd November 2015

Words and Photos by Johnny Main.

johnny main

backyard babies

It was October 2015 when the Backyard Babies latest release, 'Four By Four', dropped into my inbox, and to be honest, I hadn't heard a single note from the band before.

As I had a couple of hours to spare, I thought I'd give it a listen and was pleasantly surprised by what I heard – you can read the review here by the way.

Fast forward a month and I've got an invite to go and see the band live at the O2 ABC in Glasgow – well, it'd be rude not to take up such a gracious offer, wouldn't it?

Article continues below...

The Junkstars
As I entered the ABC, the first band on this evening of rock from a trio of Swedish based bands, The Junkstars, had just walked on stage and had started their set to a small crowd.

The noisy trio started off well enough with 'Kill The Ravens' from their latest album, 'This Means War', but the crowd seemed slightly indifferent to them, which is a real shame.

Singer Max Malmquist tried to get the crowd moving – at one point he walked away from his microphone on stage left and stood centre stage addressing the crowd without amplification, and it was this moment of genuine passion for what the band were doing that finally ignited the crowd's attitude.

Among their best for me were 'The First Time I Heard The Clash' and their set closer 'Go To Hell'. Throughout their set, Malmquist made good use of the onstage ramps giving the audience a show while bass player Tobbe Ljungqvist and drummer Mathias Wanneberg keeping a dependable rhythm section at the back.

"Being on a band in 2015 isn't about selling records but getting likes on Facebook" explained Malmquist, which is harsh has more than an element of truth to it, and I get the feeling that the band may have gained a few more "likes" on their Facebook page after their performance.

The Junkstars Set List:
Kill The Ravens
Romance of Death
This Means War
First Time I Heard The Clash
Rock Bottom
Go To Hell

The Junkstars are:
Max Malmquist – Vocals/G
Tobbe Ljungqvist – Bass Guitar
Mathias Wanneberg – Drums

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Heavy Tiger
After a quick change of equipment on stage, there was a substantially larger crowd for the next act were a trio by the name of Heavy Tiger, who were greeted with warm applause as they stepped out on stage resplendent in their bright red jumpsuits.

As the burst into the opening of 'Riff Raff' by AC/DC, it's obvious its going to be a long and noisy set – and they don't disappoint! Opening salvo, 'Saigon Kiss' had vocalist Maja Linn only just managing to contain her enthusiasm as she grinned from ear to ear, with not even the odd burst of feedback able to deflate her.

'Chinatown' had a slightly slower pace but it was drummer Astrid Carsbring who shined brightest here with a solid beat while also pitching in with the vocals. 'Superstar' was up next with its great guitar riff before the thundering bass rhythm from bass player Sara Frendin came in.

heavy tiger

The vocals from Linn were unfortunately lost in the mix here, but bar the soundman who quickly rectified the issue, I don't anyone really noticed (or cared!) as the crowd in front of the stage grew bigger and bigger.

With 'Little Sister' it was Carsbring's turn for a lead vocal, which was an accomplished affair overall. Linn uses her time away from the microphone well as she connected with the front row of the audience before a bit of head banging which only encourages a group in front of her to do the same.

The song comes to a well rehearsed and theatrical stop with Frendin and Linn standing on the ramps with their backs to the audience and guitars hoisted in the air as the final chord rings out.

'Heavy Tiger' the song, picks up the pace again and has some great three way vocals before a bit more showmanship from Linn who stands atop the ramp and a loud reception as it finishes.

heavy tiger

'Girls Got Balls' "is a statement" says Carsbring before firing up the cowbell as the guitars pile in. The bass guitar tone was very prominent here, which gave the track a heavier sound and very good it was too.

The mix of their different vocal inflections is great and their stagecraft leaves those bands who stand stock still on stage very much in the shade.

Overall, the band get full marks for effort, passion and performance from me and the sheer volume from the crowd tells you all you need to know about this young, talented band.

It's clear why they were special guests to Backyard Babies on this tour, and the band are now very firmly on my radar and I look forward to catching up with them sooner rather than later.

heavy tiger

Heavy Tiger Set List:
Saigon Kiss
Little Sister
Heavy Tiger
Living Loving Maid
Girls Got Balls

Heavy Tiger are:
Maja Linn – Vocals/Guitar
Sara Frendin – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Astrid Carsbring – Drums/Backing Vocals

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Backyard Babies
The venue was packed by quarter to nine as the tech on stage made the final adjustments to the Backyard Babies equipment.

As Guns N' Roses 'Welcome To The Jungle' blasted out of the PA, those standing at the back of the hall make their way to the front of the stage waiting for the imminent arrival of the band and they don't have too long to wait as one by one the band come onstage led by drummer Peder Carlsson.

With an eighty minute set time, there was no hanging about as they got down to business with 'Th1rte3n or Nothing', the opening track from their new album, 'Four By Four'.

backyard babies

Halfway through, front man Nicke Borg asked if the audience are ready for them, and the response means he doesn't need to ask twice. This might be a new song, but it's a popular one already judging by the noise at its conclusion.

Bass player Johan Blomqvist lead the way during 'Highlights', as the crowd chanted "Hey Hey Hey" in time to the solid and dependable beat from Carlsson. It may have been a slower paced number, but it certainly wasn't short on power.

Plumes of smoke from under the ramps causes the audience to cheer wildly and show that a wee bit of theatre really does go a long way!

Borg counted in 'The Clash' with some help from the rabid crowd and as the song settled down a group of head bangers directly in front of him do their thing.

Guitarist Andreas Tyrone Svensson who was keeping a low profile up until this point took the opportunity to get up close and personal during his solo to the delight of the front row while those armed with their mobile phones further back, pushed forward trying to get a better view.

"It's been a long time" said Borg to glorious applause before 'Brand New Hate' which has the audience singing along once again.

Likewise for 'Dysfunctional Professional' it was another sing-along from the audience who seem to get wilder and wilder as the set progressed, without much influence from the band.

Svensson played a short guitar solo before nearly falling backwards off the ramp and onto the stage, but I guess that's all just part of the show isn't it?

'Bloody Tears' was a real highlight of the new album for me, and the song sounds just as great live. Blomqvist lead the way with the crowd helping to sing-along and I really hope this is in their set long term, because it was a cornerstone of their set during this performance. Borg has never sounded more sincere and it the song just works so well live – top marks.

'Heaven 2.9' picked up the pace again as a mini mosh pit developed one side of the stage as smoke once again blasts out to the delight of those caught up in it. It's another popular song it seems as the crowd once again need little encouragement to sing-along before Svensson plays what is probably his best solo of the evening.

backyard babies

Borg gets all misty-eyed as he dedicates 'Song For The Outcast' to all those who have supported and stuck with the band over the years which is a nice touch, before 'Star War' which had Carlsson pounding out the sturdy beat as the audience clapping along.

There was some echo added to Borg's voice here which added an extra element to his performance and once the song gets going the audience went absolutely crazy!

'Painkiller/Roads' was dedicated to Tyla (of Dogs D'Amour fame) which gets an appreciative cheer as the acoustic guitars are brought out. The slow melancholic pace didn't last long as Carlsson kicks in with the beat and it's another party down the front of the stage.

Svensson managed to get another moment in the spotlight during the solo and as the band finish the song, some wag down the front proclaims "fucking quality!" - couldn't have put it better myself!

backyard babies

As 'Nomadic' brings the main set to an end, the band disappears into the sanctuary of the dressing room for a breather but there's no realistic way they could get out of the building without coming out for more, such is the noise from out front and, of course, they do eventually return for an encore.

Glasgow is a real stronghold for the band who love the city as much as the city loves the band, and the band's apologies for being away for so long (five years at the last count) are accepted with the proviso that they'd just better make sure it's not another five years until they return once again.

Backyard Babies Set List:
Th1rte3n or Nothing
The Clash
Made Me Madman
UFO Romeo
Brand New Hate
Dysfunctional Professional
Bloody Tears
Heaven 2.9
A Song for the Outcast
Star War
Wasted Years
Minus Celsius
Look at You

Backyard Babies are:
Nicke Borg – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Andreas Tyrone Svensson (aka Dregen) – Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Johan Blomqvist – Bass Guitar
Peder Carlsson – Drums

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