Tours of hell and glam-nation

Sweet current line-up
Sweet current line-up
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When you hear that 1970s glam rock band Sweet are appearing with Slade in Sheffield next week, you may think that they have got back together again to ride a wave of nostalgia.

In fact, they never really went away, according to guitarist Andy Scott, who is the mainstay of the current line-up.

He said: “This is just a new tour. We’ve been back on the road since 1984-5 in about four different incarnations. There was one in the 1980s which was really a heavy metal band with ex-members.”

Andy joined Sweet in 1970, a couple of years before they scored a string of hits written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, including Wig-Wam Bam, Little Willy, Block Buster and Ballroom Blitz, when they cashed in on the glam rock explosion.

At heart Sweet were really a rock band, as was obvious from lots of the B-sides to their big hits.

Things have got a lot more rock orientated in recent years with members of the Michael Schenker Group in the line-up at one time but Andy said: “We’re edging towards bringing some of the pop songs back in.”

Sadly, singer Brian Connolly and drummer Mick Tucker from the band’s classic line-up have both died and bass player Steve Priest lives in Los Angeles. Andy, who has had his own fight with prostate cancer, says Steve is not interested in returning home these days.

He added: “There might have been a moment when we might have done something together. That’s passed now.”

The band are appearing in Sheffield during a 22-date tour that takes them as far as Germany and Russia.

Andy said: “We’re not doing this for the money. If you’re going to do things properly, you have a lot of expenses.”

He hasn’t got much time for bands that get back together and use backing tapes to re-create their old sound.

Andy said: “I’m a total believer that the audience know if you’re faking it.

“If you’re going out for the wrong reasons, you’ll get caught out. If you don’t enjoy doing anything, you should be doing something else.”

He certainly didn’t think that Sweet would still be going now. He said: “Today things move and change quicker than in the 1970s. You were lucky to have one or two hits in a pop way unless you struck it big in a Bowie way. We were lucky.

“We had our moments and some fans are still with us.”

He says that some of today’s audience are younger too, a mixture of kids of original fans and others discovering Sweet via YouTube. Fame took its toll on members of the band, most notably Brian Connolly, who had a drink problem for years. Andy said it took Brian a long time until he realised he had to stop and his health suffered.

The prospect of coming back to Sheffield reminded Andy of just how quickly fame struck Sweet. He said: “We played and hardly anybody showed up. It was a gig left over from just before we had a hit. That’s one of my first memories of Sheffield.

“Just after that we played in a Rotherham youth centre and they’re queuing round the block. It’s a mad world sometimes.”

Sweet and Slade appear together at Sheffield City Hall next Wednesday. Box office: 0114 2789789 or go to www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk