By Terry Marland, Rock At Night Manchester
Live Review: Dirty Honey w/Himalayas – Manchester Club Academy, Manchester, UK – January 25, 2023
South Wales Indie rockers Himalayas get things off to a solid start with a half hour set featuring songs from their back catalogue. Frontman Mike Williams demonstrates commanding vocals and plays some searing guitar. The band are a tight unit that meet with the approval of the Manchester audience. “Thank God I’m Not You”, which has received a lot of attention on streaming platforms is a highlight of their set as is the new single “Into the Trap” Check them out on Spotify or from where ever you get your music.
Dirty Honey has played support to some of the biggest names in the business in recent years sharing stages with the likes of The Who, Guns N’ Roses, The Black Crowes and Kiss. Last year they delivered blistering shows as UK openers for Rival Sons which was when I, and it seems many here tonight, saw the band for the first time. Their performance in Blackburn last July received the most enthusiastic audience response for a support band that I have seen and left me eagerly awaiting their return.
This tour sees them headline across Europe and the UK. All UK shows have sold out and dates on the continent are heading the same way. Tonight’s gig was initially scheduled for the Academy 3 but sold out within days and was upgraded to the larger Club Academy venue. Dirty Honey are on a roll.
As ACDC’S “Rock ‘N’ Roll Damnation” fades the band take up their positions for the opening number, a turbo-charged version of “Gypsy”. Marc LaBelle struts the stage Mic Stand in hand belting out vocals that would be a match for any singer in the rock business.
His singing style has been compared to many of the classic rock icons, including Axl Rose, but he has an electrifying vocal style and a commanding in-your-face stage presence that is all his own.
The audience are hanging on to every line. In between songs he welcomes the crowd to “our first ever show in Manchester”.
“Break You” showcases the superb guitar skills of John Notto. He is a master of his craft and has deservedly received widespread acclaim. Most recently ‘Guitarist Magazine’ placed him at No.1 in “the guitarists most likely to define the new wave of classic rock”. His performance tonight is sublime.
As the set progresses with “Heartbreaker” and “The Wire” it’s difficult to believe that drummer Jaydon Bean appeared live with the band for the first time a few days earlier, following the departure of Covey Coverstone. His playing is high quality and his jovial on-stage persona blends well with his bandmates.
The beefed up Prince cover of “Let’s go Crazy” sees bassist Justin Smolian in excellent form as he has been all evening and he takes it up to another level on “California Dreamin’ ”.
The band has the air of seasoned arena performers and command the limited performance space with a confident swagger . At various points of the evening the three outfield members leave the stage to stand in the pit gantry and beyond to get up close to fans with LaBelle ,as ever, encouraging audience participation and extending the mic stand into the crowd. There is a special on-stage chemistry here.
“Another Last Time” and “When I’m Gone” bring the main set to a triumphant close before the band return to play “Rolling 7’s ” their customary encore.
Some say “Rock ‘N’ Roll is Dead” – Dirty Honey have other ideas.
If you can get hold of a ticket don’t miss the chance to catch them while you can still see the whites of their eyes. They will be playing much bigger venues in the not too distant future.
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