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Sweet Sounds in Newcastle

Newcastle Live -

Music

The Sweet

It was just before Christmas 1984 with Andy now living in Central London when he met Sweet’s former agent in the street.They went for a pint and the seed was sown for Sweet to reform and go back on the road. Andy’s career as a solo artist/record producer/session musician was just about ticking over and he finally came to the conclusion that the triumphant return of Sweet would be a good idea and has never looked back since.

After a couple of late nights with Mick Tucker, Andy contacted Agent Nigel and the grand reformation was set in motion. Steve was duly contacted and it looked for a while that he would rejoin when the plan was solid. Steve eventually pulled away from the reformation citing that he did not want to tour any more, leaving Mick and Andy to find other musicians.

The first reformed line-up of Sweet in 1985 was very much a heavy rock ensemble. Vocalist – Paul Mario Day [ex Iron Maiden], Keyboards and Vocals Phil Lanzon and on Bass and Vocals – Mal McNulty (ex Weapon now with Slade) joined Andy and Mick to begin the new chapter of Sweet. Tours of Australia and Europe were first on the agenda selling out everywhere. “Live At The Marquee” was recorded during a three night sell out blitz at The Marquee Club in London just before the infamous venue closed it’s doors for good and has pride of place as an historic event for the band. All good things must change so when Paul decided to live permanently in Australia and Phil left to join Uriah Heep the band needed new blood. After a couple of dry runs the new band had Mal McNulty move to Lead Vocals, Steve Mann [ex Lionheart and Michael Schenker Group] on Keyboards/Guitars and Jeff Brown (ex Statetrooper) on Bass. Tours of USA, Europe followed as the band continued it’s upward surge. In 1990 Mick Tucker fell ill on one of the biggest tours to date, a European venture that was to take in 9 countries in 6 weeks. He’d had an epileptic fit and a recurrence of a previous health problem, pancreatitis. His place was taken by Bodo Schopf (ex MSG) as a temporary drummer but Mick was never to return to the band (Mick Tucker died on 14th February 2002 after a 6 year battle with Leukaemia).

Then there was one – Andy Scott.The very well received album “A” was recorded at Steve Mann’s studio in Hannover in 1991 and made an impact on the charts in several territories.

Bodo felt his time with Sweet was always temporary so his replacement came in the shape of Bruce Bisland [ex Weapon, Wildfire and Statetrooper]. Andy had worked with Bruce on recording sessions as a producer and musician so knew he could be the right man for the job [he is still with Sweet 20 years on!] The “A” Tour as it became known was another nutcracker taking in the USA and Australia this time but the band weathered it well. 1994 saw another rather unexpected change when Mal decided it was time to move on and everyone was sad to see him leave. The new vocalist was to be Chad Brown [ex Lionheart] and Sweet immediately settled in to record an album of re-records of the hit singles entitled “Glitz Blitz & Hitz”. The recordings were faultless and have fooled many people with the accuracy of performance and sound production from Andy. Several Sweet tours including some faraway places, above the Arctic Circle, Greenland and Singapore were negotiated without drama but in true Sweet fashion there was darkness on the horizon, Steve Mann left the band to become head of Audio Post Production at Channel 4 TV. This was too good an opportunity for him and once again with sadness we wished him well in his new career.

Steve Grant, a virtuoso musician, stepped up and took over seamlessly as the Keyboards/Guitar man. His touring included The Animals on their reformation tours of the USA and various studio projects. A pattern was developing, as a new guy gets settled another seems to become unsettled and want to leave. Chad had not enjoyed touring for a while and it was during another German extravaganza that he developed a throat infection which left the band with 6 shows at the end of the tour to either cancel or carry on and perform. Naturally “the show must go on” was the decision, as a four piece, with Jeff Brown singing most of the Lead Vocals. It worked well and the band has remained as a four piece ever since. This gave Chad the necessary excuse to leave and the band to head into the studio again to start work on “Sweetlife”. The album was finally released in 2002 to favourable reviews with the single “Do It All Over Again” gaining the band a younger set of fans rediscovering Sweet after the band’s appearance on TV shows in Germany and the rest of Europe. There was unrest within the band and though they tried to work through it, it was obvious that something had to give and at the end of 2002 Jeff Brown was given an ultimatum and subsequently left the band.

Not since the 1980s had Sweet toured the UK so the Glitz Blitz & Hitz tour in 2003 was a big event but the band had no singer. Tony O’Hora had been working with Bruce in Praying Mantis on their once a year tours of Japan. His vocal range is stratospheric and once we realised that he could play bass too then like a phoenix rising we were on our way. Tony brought a new dimension that is still prevalent today. This particular line up of Sweet heralded a bright future for the band and Sweet’s appearance on many festivals and the concert footage from the shows bear witness to this. Touring in USA/Canada/Australia/Europe and another theatre tour of the UK in 2005 laid solid foundations for the band. The band was a happy ship but as is the Sweet way something untoward was about to happen. In 2005 Tony had been working at a Music College and enjoying the experience so he initially tried to keep everyone happy, band, home and college – this was always going to be a problem and the band lost. He found it the hardest of decisions but everyone respected him for it and had to move on. Sweet had some eventful shows and tours for six months whilst finding a replacement, a tour of Russia, coast to coast, Vladivostok to Moscow and all points between, with Phil Lanzon back on Keyboards and Steve Grant on Vocals and Bass. Brilliant and surreal!

2006 was a good year. Sweet had a new vocalist. Pete Lincoln is the most complete vocalist the band has had. He has spent many years touring the world with the likes of Sir Cliff Richard, Shaking Stevens and Sailor. The band now performs all of the hits and many album tracks, including “Set Me Free” the song most covered by other artists and Pete has grasped the position of Lead Vocalist and made it his own. The past five years have flown by with appearances on festivals in Europe, another Glitz Blitz & Hitz tour of the UK in 2008, Sweet Fanny Adams Revisited tours in Germany, the annual Sweet fan meeting in the UK at the Robin and several successful visits to Australia.

Catch The Sweet on their national tour when they stop into the Civic Theatre this Saturday the 22nd of March.

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