Heavy Metal Kids: Merton Manor, London
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Merton Manor Club, London
Sunday 25th October 2015

Liz Medhurst: Photos By Sally Newhouse

liz medhurst

heavy metal kids

Tonight’s appearance from Heavy Metal Kids was in tribute to original frontman Gary Holton, who died exactly 30 years previously. There was a great turn out, with many people who knew Gary, and many more who wished they had a chance to see him in action.

Gary’s presence was very much felt tonight, not least due to the large screen installed specially for the occasion showing many pictures and clips from his life. It was incredibly well put together and powerful.

The band were on top form too, and the set, featuring special guests, was a mix of old and more recent tracks, perfectly paced and performed.

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Max Splodge of Splodgenessabounds opened with Chelsea bass player Mat Sargent and they did three numbers including 'Go The Whole Hog' and – of course - 'Two Pints...’ before Heavy Metal Kids took the stage and ramped up the volume.

heavy metal kids

The sound tonight was mixed by Tino Troy from Praying Mantis, and it was clear and rich – and very, very loud.

heavy metal kids
Max Splodge and Paul Manzi

The set started with an explosive opening trio with ‘Hangin’ On’ from the first album and then straight into ‘Blow It All Away’ and ‘Hit The Right Button’ from the 2002 reunion, and the vibe stayed at this high level.

There have been many line up changes over the years, and the current set up of Paul Manzi on vocals, drummer Keith Boyce, guitarists Cosmo and Justin McConville with P.J. Phillips on bass hits a sweet spot.

heavy metal kids

Paul Manzi is of course not the front man that Gary Holton was - who was pretty unique and irreplaceable so no-one would expect this - but his flawless vocals bring the songs to life in glorious technicolour, and he paid a heartfelt and great tribute to Gary after the first two numbers

Preceding the punk movement – and some would attribute founding father status - HMK were always about the choppy, aggressive sound, however the band can also pull out the epic songs and big ballads, as demonstrated tonight on ‘The Big Fire’.

heavy metal kids
Ronnie Thomas

The energy never let up, and Justin McConville was excelling himself with the amount of leaps per song he could make, and still return to ground for perfectly timed back-up vocals.

With a mix of songs from the 70s album right through to this century, the band showcased their catalogue brilliantly. The crowd tonight was a happy one, it wasn’t just all about nostalgia and this corner of South Wimbledon was certainly where the party was.

heavy metal kids
Keith Boyce

The first of the special guests was drummer Ric Ricci Titcombe, who took over Keith Boyce’s stool for ‘Squalliday Inn’, the well-liked track from ‘Kitsch.

heavy metal kids
Justin McConville

After the brilliant comic horror of the severed head from ‘The Cops Are Coming’, the kids were joined by Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell and original bassist Ronnie Thomas for a high octane ‘She’s No Angel’, followed by Max Splodge returning to close the main set with ‘Delirious’.

heavy metal kids
Dave 'Bucket' Colwell

Everyone was in the mood for more, and following ‘We Gotta Go’, Gary's wife Donna took the mic with a beautiful and emotional tribute to her late husband.

heavy metal kids
Donna Holton

As the riotous set closer ‘Rock’N’Roll Man’ rang out, this tribute had been a triumph and Gary’s memory suitably honoured. Forgetting the troubles of his final years, Heavy Metal Kids tonight reminded us of his irreplaceable talent and assured legacy.

Set List
Hangin On
Blow It All Away
Hit The Right Button
Chelsea Kids
You Got Me Rollin’
The Big Fire
Squalliday Inn – with Ric Ricci Titcombe
Jimmy Brown
The Cops are Coming
She’s No Angel – with Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell and Ronnie Thomas
Delirious – with Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell, Ronnie Thomas and Max Splodge
We Gotta Go
Rock’n’Roll Man

Gary Holton with Heavy Metal Kids on Top Of The Pops:

Gary performing ‘Delirious’ on UK TV:

Gary came to prominence with the role of builder Wayne in the classic series ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet’. He died shortly before the end of filming, and the cast dedicated the final episode to him:



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