The Heavy // Live Review & Photoset

28th May | Trinity

Words and Photos: Michael Brumby

While most of Bristol was watching Take That at Ashton Gate, the rest was at the Trinity Centre for soul, funk and rock-infused musical genius.

Warming us up was America’s The Black Pumas. Their soulful sound rang out around Trinity, with subtle notes of psychedelia, funk and the lush gospel sounds from their backing singers (who were impressively skilled on tambourine). This band captivated the audience from their first note. 

Eric Burton, front man, singer and guitarist, had great interaction with the Bristol locals. He had so much energy, jumping in and out of the audience, dancing hand-in-hand with the locals. It showed how much he felt the music and clearly enjoyed the performance. His vocals where on point, as was his stage presence. In all honesty one of the best warm-up performances I’ve seen in a long time, it was a perfect pairing that complemented the evening’s headliners as one long show, rather than a jarring contrast of performances. 

Funky rock and soul legends, The Heavy have been gracing stages all over the world for over ten years now. Trinity felt like a nice intimate space to host these heavyweights. Kelvin Swaby, along with his core band and an small army of brass backing and vocalists, took to the stage. Kelvin embraced the audience with genuine joy. Using the entire stage front, he darted from left to right with a cheeky smile, whipping around his signature Shure 55 mic, giving him complete mobility to conquer the stage. 

We were treated to a show of loud dynamics and groove. Their instrumentation created a full sound with the brass piercing through. The combination of the old-school sort of retro guitars, including the Gibson Les Paul, Gibson Firebird and Fender Precision bass created a thick sound which complimented the feel of their new songs from the recent album, Sons. Playing an even mixture of old and new tracks combined showed how seamless their songwriting has become, in the way that they all gel so well together.

Unfortunately, there was a small lull in the performance while they addressed some technical guitar issues, after which Kelvin looked towards the audience and stated, “Let’s play one you all will know.” Arguably one of their most famous tracks, ‘Short Change Hero’ arrived to the mainstream audience’s attention by its feature in the first Borderlands game. This familiar track served as the perfect apology, as the crowd instantly forgave all delays and began to chant along to the soothing soulful lyrics and casually perfect guitar. 

‘Since You Been Gone’, another raw classic, saw the peak of the show, the band hammering on those riffs transferring energy directly into the audience. Gathering the audience together to shout ‘love’ on cue to ‘What Happened To Love’ bonded everyone in the room, sending that love into Trinity’s spires. Ending the evening on two of their classics, ‘What Makes a Good Man?’ and ‘How You Like Me Now’ rounded the evening off nicely.

There is a reason they always sell out venues around the world. Their next visit to Bristol is at SWX on 8th November. Book early to avoid disappointment.

See the video for ‘Better As One’ here: