Steve Priest & Band Revitalize 70’s Glam Rock with SMASHING SUCCESS!!!!
It’s regaling to walk into an auditorium during soundcheck, & hear the sound of “The Six Teens” reverberating from the speakers – with all the crispness, clarity, & revolutionary “magic” that it held back in 1974. THE SWEET, or just plain “Sweet” (as many people would come to know them), were a quintessential pop-rock blend that ignited genre diversity…not only during the height of 70’s simplicity, but for many years to come. With over 40 MILLION in album sales…& charting thirty-four #1 singles worldwide, during the span of only one decade…THE SWEET paved the road to success for giants like Queen, ELO, Kiss, Motley Crue, & Def Leppard…forming an early designation for GLAM ROCK that has not yet been surpassed. Delving into rich multi-tracked recording, voluptuous choral harmonies, high-pitched crescendos, & some of the most heavy garage-infused guitar hooks you’ll ever hear…their uniquely combined “bubble-gum sensibility” (prototyped by influences like The Monkees & The Archies) would become a capitalizing trademark for the all-star British group. But things were not always “cozy & quaint” for the likes of Sweet. Heavy touring schedules, high-pressure studio demands, arguments with management & their writing partners “Chinn & Chapman” over musical direction, & sometimes lavish run-ins with an over-excessive lifestyle…all led to high-mounting tension & the ultimate demise of the original lineup, in 1981. In 1988, attempts were made to reunite the highly-acclaimed act (consisting of Steve Priest, Brian Connolly, Mick Tucker, & Andy Scott)…but Connolly’s deteriorating physical health would make it a virtual impossibility. On February 9th, 1997 Brian Connolly would succumb to liver failure & repeated heart attacks…related to his chronic battle with alcoholism. Mick Tucker would subsequently pass away on February 14th, 2002 from leukemia – he was only 54 years old.
Today, there are TWO VERSIONS of “THE SWEET” parading across the globe…one belonging to Andy Scott (lead guitarist for the original lineup)…the other belonging to Steve Priest, long-time original bassist. Albums may come & go, & band members may suddenly change, but the TIMELESSNESS of Sweet’s classic music will never fade, nor falter…& that’s something that many musicians & fans will agree upon. For STEVE PRIEST & his “Americanized” version of the group (consisting of STEVIE STUART on keyboards, JOE RETTA (lead vocals), RICHIE ONORI (drums), & one other hot, new shredding addition…lead guitarist, RICKY Z.) – they not only capture the essence of what the pop-cultured British roots meant to the 70’s, but also crown it with divergence & delivery that is systematically up-to-date. Through a rousing onstage array of succinct style maneuverability, & concordance to rendering showmanship that viciously blows their audience away, Priest & band members playfully battle for the spotlight…ensue in liberal bantering…& place the proverbial “CANDY COATING” on the hardrock sundae. “We do our own thing…& people think we sound just like the record,” keyboardist Stevie Stuart tells me before the show, “but really…it’s not just like the record. The songs are so strong that, as long as you got you’re heart in it & you’re diggin’ in…it’s good.” But in actuality, it’s not good……it’s EVEN BETTER. Priest has afforded the lineup to direct the catchy melodies & rhythms with their own personal influence, making every moment captivating with flawless execution. From Onori’s blasting beats to Zahariades’ fast-firing solos, the energy resonates from the stage – commanded by the flood of Joe Retta’s prominent range. Performing with a number of exalted tribute acts, & having a tremendous likeness to the late Ronnie James Dio, Retta is born to stand in front of the microphone…with a merciless extraction of every vocal movement from within R&B, funk, blues, rock‘n’roll, even heavy metal.
Since joining forces in 2008, the newly-adapted rendition has seen consequential success for their precision-heaped playing…regularly selling out staple clubs like the House of Blues & Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles (their home base) & headlining various North American festivals including “Moondance Jam” (Walker, MN), “Rock N Resort Festival” (North Lawrence, OH), London, Ontario’s “Rock the Park”, Peterborough’s “Festival of Lights”, “Common Ground Festival” (Lansing, MI), & performing at a benefit concert for California wildfire victims at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. In 2009, Steve Priest & “The Sweet” not only made a presentation at the industry’s illustrious “Pollstar Awards”, but also dispatched a short set at Nokia Theatre – marking the FIRST TIME a band had ever publicly performed at the event. All being avid studio musicians, & songwriters by nature, Priest admits that the talent comes from an influx of various resources. “You’ve gotta’ listen to everything!” he says, “That’s what you gotta’ do…to make it work.” Not wasting any time, the band jumped straight into a TEENAGE RAMPAGE of glam rock moves, trippy boogie fever, with the good ole “British Captain” manning his bass…almost tickling it, at times. “Nothing was ever written to follow a trend,” Priest adds, when discussing the originality of Sweet’s music, “it was simple love songs actually, or fun songs.” – & the fresh foursome ensure that FUN is a very constructive part of what they do today.
Winding through an echelon of dreamy acoustic guitar, cascading cymbals, & swirling keyboard menagerie…the 1978 hit “Love Is Like Oxygen” was destined to please, before stomping into the powerful & virile “Set Me Free”. Ricky Z.’s James Brown/Angus Young “spider legs” were a show unto themselves, while matching it with non-stop squeals from his scarlet red Gibson guitar. “Fox on the Run” & “The Six Teens” brought about the climatic four-part harmonies that Sweet has always been revered for…whilst heading into the rhythm rumble of “Sweet F.A.” – which seen Stevie Stuart burning a hole in his keys, as he opened up the sirens of “Block Buster”. “Little Willy” had the crowd dancing, clapping, & chanting…with Retta urging it all on via wriggling hips, a generous booty-shake, & contorting his voice through a number of high notes & growls. The rock‘n’roll drive of “AC DC” turned into a jovial combat mission…in which the keyboardist, guitarist, & lead singer confidently duelled for attention from a group of ladies in the corner…while Priest chuckled from the stage. Closing the night out to shouts, screams, & a standing ovation – the band did re-emerge with Onori tearing into one heart-pounding solo exhibition on his tightly-arranged DW kit, then smashing into the quick-paced opener of “Ballroom Blitz”.
“I’ve always loved THE SWEET,” Stevie Stuart (keyboardist) shares, “they were very cutting-edge to me.” For many, that belief is still very significant today. Marking their second SOLD OUT show at Casino Regina, & a new page in history for the band…the harmonies chimed like clockwork…the instruments lit up with vivacious personality…& the homage to a ground-breaking generation of music was absolute – making it EMPIRICAL in value. “We just wrote what we liked, & went with it…a gut feeling.” Priest states, while reminiscing about the past.
SWEET are back…& they’re bolder than ever…breathing NEW LIFE & ENERGY into music that changed the world!!!
For more information on the band, tour dates, & booking…please visit: TheSweetBand.com