SUICIDE BOMBERS, NOTÖRIOUS AND LOVE TRAVEL LIVE IN BERGEN, NORWAY!
Three glam bands on one bill qualifies for a glam fest by local standards and I’m not really sure an event like this has ever taken place in Bergen before. The location was Hulen (‘The Cave’ in Norwegian), a club which advertises itself as the oldest rock club in Northern Europe. It has to be admitted that Hulen is unique, a former bomb shelter, taken over by a student organization in 1969 which has run a rock club there ever since. Probably the most fascinating thing about Hulen is that it’s an actual grotto. While I’ve been to many rock clubs, none of them was a grotto. Well, if you happen to visit Bergen at one point, Hulen may be a place worth peeking into.
Even though I’ve been a resident of Bergen for eight years now, it was my first show at Hulen, which is clearly an indication that the club usually caters to a different crowd. But today, it didn’t matter because I was about to see three glam bands, each at a completely different point in their career.
Love Travel is a self-proclaimed ‘tinder based’ rock n roll band from Bergen and I must say I knew nothing about them while I was making my way towards Hulen. It turned out there was a good reason for it. There was namely no information available about the band because they’re complete beginners. They had played only three shows before and, I’m assuming, this travel (pun intended) started only in 2022. The band has some flaws you could expect from a newly-formed band but at the same time they sounded tight and made a good decision to play a short set which consisted of a few covers and one original track. They couldn’t really go wrong with this set of covers and they didn’t. I enjoyed “Eyes of A Panther” and “Nightrain” more than the rest but that’s just me – the ’80s hair metal beats anything else as far as I’m concerned. In the end, no one seemed disappointed. You could in fact feel how warmly they were being received by the crowd — perhaps a perk of playing your own town.
For the record, Love Travel consisted of Captain Love (vocals), Tommy Flames (lead guitar), Siggi Orgasmatron (rythm guitar/harmonica), Micke Myking (bass), and Eivind Søtpuz (drums, a guest drummer on loan from Children of The Void). Singer Captain Love has quite an impressive set of pipes and potential to become a solid entertainer. He tried on a few different hats during the band’s set, all of them red, which made me think of Bret Michaels. On the whole, however, Captain Love gave off more of a Michael Starr vibe due to his physical appearance. As for the flaws, it’s nothing really that couldn’t be fixed – the guitarists have a little stiff stage presence and visually the band is quite incoherent. But, hey, the scarves draped around the mic stand are always a good sign in my book. Love Travel is definitely a very welcome addition to the local scene.
Love Travel’s setlist:
01. Runnin’ Wild (Airbourne cover)
02. Eyes of A Panther (Steel Panther cover)
03. Born To Be Wild (Steppenwolf cover)
04. Nightrain (Guns N’ Roses cover)
05. Tush (ZZ Top cover)
06. Rock And Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)
07. Gotta Go
08. Have Love Will Travel (The Sonics cover)
The next band to take the stage was Notörious, a band whose show I reviewed a few months ago and a band which has been touring Norway incessantly for the last few months. Notörious is still promoting their debut album Glamorized as they’re cooking up a follow-up. They’re also slated to make their international live debut at Wildfest in Belgium in May 2023.
I must admit that at this point I had seen Notörious live around ten times but it’s still hard not to enjoy their performance. Their setlist was almost identical to the one I saw the last time around but this time they cut out the extended guitar solos – a totally understandable move given that they had less time. A difference I noticed right away was the excellent sound quality. Whomever was taking care of the band’s sound this time around did a superb job. You could really appreciate every instrument here and the guitar solos benefitted most.
Notörious — with Chris Houdini on vocals, Nikki DiCato on guitar, Andy Sweet on bass and Freddy Kixx on drums — seem to be having the time of their life as they take another small step to furthering their career. Bassist Andy Sweet was literally all smiles throughout the set. They took full advantage of a larger stage than usual which they had at their disposal at Hulen. They were all over it. After the opening staple “Notörious”, I paid some extra attention to the new track “Venom”. It is heavier — perhaps “Slave To The Grind” kind of heavy, it is driving, and it has an explicit emphasis on the riff. It meshed pretty well with the rest of the set too.
The band knows how to capitalize on the most audience-friendly moments of their show – the singalong parts of “Have A Good Time” and “Summer Nights” were used to the fullest. Most of the time, however, they just rocked hard and didn’t mess around. Chris Houdini sang with passion and he has a powerful voice to back it up. He moved well too working the audience and often bringing guitarist Nikki DiCato into the frame. DiCato’s riffing propelled the show and his spotlight solo moments were stellar. Freddy Kixx, a fan of heavier bands, contributed energized drumming. This is a fast-paced show with few mid-tempo moments. And the audience was eating it up, which gave the band even more energy.
Notörious is beginning to reap the benefits of their hard work for the last few years. They always deliver the goods and they have a faithful crowd in Bergen now. They seem poised and ready to spread their appeal abroad. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.
03. Have A Good Time
04. Friday Night
05. I Walked In
06. Tonight (Gonna Get It)
09. Summer Nights
11. Run For Your Life
12. Flying High
Suicide Bombers is currently touring in celebration of their debut album Criminal Record‘s 10th year anniversary. Four albums into their career, Suicide Bombers, consisting of Chris Damien Doll (vocals), Stevie Teaze (guitar), C Slim (bass), and Lyle Starr (drums), came to Bergen as a well-established band. Still, Bergen is not an easy market for glam/sleaze metal bands, at least not for those from outside of Bergen. While I made my way to the front of the stage, I noticed that some of the crowd that was there for Notörious was now missing. Suicide Bombers are however total pros to the very sleazy core and wouldn’t let the wavering audience at the beginning of the set throw them off balance.
The band emerged onto the stage to the intro from the Murder Couture album and started knocking out the infectious sleazy riffs of first “Murder Couture” and then “Let’s Rock’N’Roll”. You realize instantly that with Suicide Bombers, you don’t just get a show, you get a sleazy ride, a seedy spectacle. Standing still is not an option, these songs are too catchy and energizing. They’re performed with sheer bravado too. Every little thing adds to this ride — the red lit mic stands; the between-song announcements and intros; Chris Damien Doll’s coolly arrogant and, at the same time, inspired vocals; Stevie Teaze’s crazy dance with his Les Paul; C Slim’s calm demeanor; and, Lyle Starr’s intense drumming. Suicide Bombers managed to squeeze a new track, “Tonight Belongs to Us”, early in the set and it felt like it had been performed many times before. It sounded like a promise of a great new sleazy album being on the way.
With “Easy Access”, we were back to the debut album Criminal Record, and with fast-paced “We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists”, you barely had time to catch your breath before joining the band for another round of gang vocals in the choruses. It wasn’t until the opening chords of “So Bad” that I finally looked back and saw that the crowd was back. Quite a few of them captivated by Suicide Bombers’ glitzy thunder. Still, there was really no time to look around and wonder because the band was about to approach the end of the set with fantastic renditions of “Suicide Idol” and “Bladerunner (Tokyo Nights)”. And that was it, the band quickly left the stage only to quickly re-emerge by the merch stand ready to sign autographs.
There’s one more thing about Suicide Bombers — they have some of that unique intangible coolness on stage which only a real sleaze metal band can have. The coolness that Faster Pussycat and Alleycat Scratch had back in the day. Something that originated in the gutters of Sunset Strip decades ago and somehow made its way to Oslo in the 21st century. It’s not easy to describe but it’s definitely there. Perhaps it’s the low-slung guitars, perhaps it’s the way Suicide Bombers attack their instruments, perhaps it’s the way they move onstage reinforced by the charm of the incredibly catchy riffs, or maybe it’s something else…
Suicide Bombers’ setlist:
01. Murder Couture
02. Let’s Rock’N’Roll
03. Ready For Tonight
04. Tonight Belongs To Us
05. Easy Access
06. We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists
07. Worlds Without End
08. So Bad
09. Suicide Idol
10. Bladerunner (Tokyo Nights)