Walking into Rescue Rooms, one immediately became aware of the gravity of this show for everyone involved in Heck as well as everyone that had any interest in seeing the band succeed. This was the show. The biggest venue the band had headlined. The biggest stage production they had ever created. The long anticipated release day of their debut album, years in the making. This was make or break. The band would either be leaving the venue broken and damaged. Or they would be leaving the venue crying in triumph. Though, being aware of what a Heck show entails, it was a miracle nobody left on a stretcher. Upon opening the doors to see Rescue Rooms brimming with a mass of flesh and excitement, it was evident: this would be Heck’s coronation, not their downfall.
Raketkanon provided the main support for the show, filling the building with a sound so intense, angular, and raw that your mother ought to be warning you of Salmonella. The raucous synth bass cut through the crowd leaving behind a sea of bobbing heads moving in unison. Screeching vocals completed the song-writing perfectly and suited the atmosphere throughout Rescue Rooms. ‘Florent’ stood out as a highlight of the set, garnering an impressive reaction from the crowd which had flooded the venue. Overhearing a conversation between two excited young men by the bar left this reviewer grinning with anticipation. While discussing the mosh pit for the support band, one of the men un-ironically told the other that they would might feel more comfortable getting involved in a mosh pit for the headliners if one should spring up. It became apparent that not only had these people not seen Heck before, they had no idea what was going to follow. A gentle reminder of my first experience viewing Heck (though under a different name at the time) left me excited for the gig that was about to flip these people’s perceptions of a great live show.
“So intense, angular, and raw that your mother ought to be warning you of Salmonella”
The lights dimmed, then fired up. Heck walked out to a deafening reaction and broke straight into ‘Good As Dead’. Staying on stage for the majority of the song, one could easily become fearful that the biggest show they had ever produced would lose the charm of their previous intimate triumphs. By the time ‘Mope’ began this fear was comfortably neutralised as singer Matt Reynolds stormed into the crowd, immediately turning the floor into his battleground. Not to be outshone, guitarist Johnny Hall rushed to the back and climbed the structure surrounding the sound desk in order to hang from the balcony as he played the riff to kick off ‘A Great Idea Bastardised’. The band then confirmed the suspicions that the set would consist of the album in its entirety. This of course raised the question: how are they going to possibly get through the sixteen minute album closer, without suffering an aneurysm? A discussion with Bassist Paul Shelley the following day revealed that they had actually played the song three times previously when it was first written.
Despite the fact that said album had been released just hours earlier, the crowd responded fantastically, turning the complete ground floor of the venue into an explosive mosh pit, chasing various members around the alternative playground of Rescue Rooms. Further enhancing the show, the waltzing acoustic outro to ‘Don’t Touch That Dial’ was accompanied by a live violinist and what appeared to be a Wurlitzer Piano. It was these details that completed the expansive production of the show, giving fans a mesmerising experience and making sure that every penny of the gig goers’ £5 ticket price was money well spent. Shortly after this, Hall returned to the balcony looking down to see a number of the audience had gathered ready to catch him should he choose to jump. Of course, he did. Somehow avoiding breaking his legs he later explained that he had no intention to jump but had been surprised to find his mother in attendance at the gig and felt a desire to make the show unforgettable for her. A true gentleman. By the time Heck reached ‘See The Old Lady Decently, Buried Although, Amongst Those Left Are You’ enough sweat had been shed throughout the venue to fill a tank bigger than the one Seaworld gave Shamu. Heck performed the gargantuan set close to perfection, despite chants of Paul Shelley interrupting some of the gentler parts of the song. Before finishing the set, the band gave a reminder of their not so secret in-store at Rough Trade that would be occurring in twenty hours’ time. Despite playing a set of brand new material while continually doing their best to break everything they saw, including any bones they had left in their bodies, Heck provided a flawless performance and one of the most memorable gigs Nottingham will experience for a very long time.
“A number of the audience had gathered ready to catch him should he choose to jump. Of course, he did”
Live Review: Heck, Rough Trade (12/03/16)
Following on from the most influential, and spectacular show of their career, Heck played a free gig to thirty odd people in the attic of Nottingham’s new favourite Record Store. “We were supposed to be doing a signing today, but we aren’t really the sort of band that makes people queue to say hi to us, so we’re going to play instead. Thank you so fucking much for last night.” Matt Reynolds perfectly introduced the show, and magically summarised just how special grassroots music is. The set consisted entirely of songs that were not on the album. This meant fans that had attended both shows had experienced an extensive cut of the bands back catalogue in less than two days for £5 or less – a reward for supporting the band. Heck, surprise surprise, tore through Rough trade in the most vicious of manners. The set closed with Drummer Tom Marsh inviting the audience onstage and giving as many people as he could drumsticks so that they could drum with him for a brutal breakdown. Both of these shows were a reminder that Heck are the greatest live band on the planet right now.
Image: Paul Hudson via Flickr