Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Diamond Head at St. Vitus Bar

What do a few scores of metalheads packed in to see Diamond Head at St. Vitus Bar have in common? All male, you might guess, and you'd almost be right. But more so, they all read about metal. Some fans hear the songs, decide which ones they like and leave it at that. None of them were at Friday's show.

Lightning to the Nations, Diamond Head's debut and their one album that anybody listens to, is out of print, unavailable on iTunes and starting at $29.99 on Amazon used. They've never charted, and didn't tour America for their first 37 years as a band, but when Metallica covers four songs from the same album, people will track it down. All four songs were played on Friday (in total, every song from Lightning except for "Sweet and Innocent,") and a crowd of mainly fortysomethings who took their metal very seriously thrashed along with every riff.

After two stupendously terrible bands (the worse of which was named Brohammer), Diamond Head took the stage around midnight with a sound that launched a few bands that launched a thousand other bands. New singer Nick Tart was an ideal replacement for Sean Harris, young enough to recharge the band's batteries and experienced enough to hold his own with Brian Tatler, whose monstrous riffage on songs like "It's Electric" and "Shoot Out the Lights" proved that even in the voluminous world of NWOBHM bands, Diamond Head created and perfected their own niche, an extra grimy variation on the genre's operatic vocals and wild soloing. "The Prince" and "Helpless" reminded us that Diamond Head were one of the first metal bands to embrace punk's musical mentality (if not their fashions), and their show-stopping "Am I Evil?" sounded even better in a club than it did when the Big Four covered it three years ago. No matter how many talents you can get on one stage, that song rips hardest with two guitars, a rhythm section and a guy who can sing better than Joey Belladonna.

"That was like seeing Iron Maiden in your living room!" my buddy said while we were leaving the bar. It was almost impossibly cool, and made me hope that someday we'll see something equally rare--Diamond Head in a stadium.

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