Situated near the heart of The Black Country – an area in the West Midlands which gave birth to bands such as Judas Priest and perennial Christmas faves Slade – The Robin 2 in Bilston tonight plays host to other local heroes, Diamond Head. Formed in 1976, about ten miles away in Stourbridge, Diamond Head sat proudly at the forefront of the legendary New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene, going onto inspire many up and coming bands, the most famous of which shall remain safely nameless for the purpose of this piece.
Opening this close-to-hometown show are Dead Agents from nearby Walsall. Microphone problems render their opening song virtually ineffective, but the smiling and enthusiastic act don’t let it bother them, and they soon hit their stride with a succession of catchy hard rock tracks. Another local act, Fires That Divide from just down the road in sunny Sedgley, seem a little lethargic in comparison. The band shows off some simple but solid riffs, but seems to lack energy as vocalist Kirk Shuttleworth struggles through the set with throat problems – a supportive crowd do their part though, shouting encouragement, and things do improve as they go on.
A noticeable swelling in crowd size heralds tonight’s main event. The dance floor, previously sparse – bordering on unoccupied – is now filled with activity, the expectant, and largely middle-aged, crowd getting ready to throw their grey hair and bald patches around and party like it’s 1979. To be fair, the venue isn’t filled entirely with quinquagenarian paunches and receding hairlines; there’s also a noticeable number younger folk here to appreciate some good old fashioned Heavy Metal as well.
Guitarist Brian Tatler is the sole remaining member of the original band, and as he follows the others onto the stage to ‘Mars, The Bringer of War’ by Gustav Holst, the crowd respond with rapturous applause. When the classical music ends, the metal begins, and the five-piece tear into ‘Shout at the Devil’ from their superb self-titled album from 2016. With his shiny head and ginger beard, singer Rasmus Bom Andersen is clearly having the time of his life, whipping up the crowd, attempting to tease Tatler into singing before playfully snatching the microphone away from him each time, and making sure everyone in the vicinity knows just who wrote that song.
Apparently not allowed to play anything from their upcoming, as yet untitled new album, tracks from their last record such as ‘Diamonds’, ‘Bones’ and ‘Set My Soul on Fire’ are greeted with as much enthusiasm as the likes of ‘Borrowed Time’, ‘Call Me’, ‘In the Heat of the Night’, and ‘To Heaven From Hell’, while an extra loud chorus of approval goes up for classics like ‘It’s Electric’, ‘The Prince’, ‘Helpless’, ‘Lightning to the Nations’, and the 1980 single, ‘Shoot Out The Lights’. But of course, ‘Am I Evil?’ is the one that everyone has come to hear, and the band know this only too well, ripping through it with seemingly more purpose than in years.
Coming back on stage for an encore of ‘Sucking My Love’, the band eventually leaves the stage to thunderous applause. “Are you evil?” screams Bom towards the end of the show. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the answer.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY GARY ALCOCK