Sweet

Live at the Rainbow 1973: The Complete Concert

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Originally released, in part, on their Strung Up odds-and-sods collection, and since cherrypicked for a wealth of subsequent comps and cash-ins, this recounting of the Sweet's Christmas 1973 London headliner is the cat's whiskers as far as peak-period Sweet concerts go. The band played the same venue earlier in the year, and it was a disaster, as every conceivable gremlin came out to destroy the event. This time around, nothing was left to chance. A dozen-strong backstage crew was in charge of overseeing every detail, even down to spraying a festive greeting across Mick Tucker's drum riser. A BBC camera crew was on hand to record the event for the All That Glitters documentary, and the entire evening would be rounded off with the riotous demolition of two on-stage Christmas trees. A decade later, in the age of VHS (and, after that, DVD) compilations, footage from this show would later be immortalized as the "official" video for the "Hell Raiser" single; long before that, however, it was prized by collectors and fans as a true worm's-eye glimpse into the world of the Sweet at the top of their game.

"Ballroom Blitz" sensibly opens the show, "Little Willy" and "Hellraiser" pop up soon after; and there's a stunning medley of the B-sides "Burning" and "Somebody Else Will"; remember, at this time, B-sides were the band's only opportunity to air their own songwriting, so while the hits do squeak into sight, the heart of the show is the band's hard rock alter ego. And (Mick Tucker's frankly tedious drum solo notwithstanding) it's stupendous. Of course, the music press got its little digs in, with the following week's inkies unleashing the usual grumblings about the over-reliance on costuming and visuals, complaints about the quality of the hit singles, dismissing the hysteria that the band provoked as indicative of their real audience -- a teeny bop band in metal monsters' clothing, as one cynic put it, without realizing that in a few years time, that same description could encompass any number of bands. But Andy Scott later described the Rainbow show as one of the best the Sweet ever played, while Tucker laughed, "we were so hopped up that night that we were running a sprint at the end. Somebody timed us and said that we finished the show 12 minutes earlier than we should have, we were playing so fast!"

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