A ROCK band who received rave reviews for their debut album, but were stuck by a series of setbacks, are set to return to the live circuit.

The Smoking Hearts, based in Shefford, were awarded 4/5 for the Pride of Nowhere, released in March, by both Kerrang and the NME, but could not capitalise on the press attention after their album launch party was hit by a power cut, and two months later their lead singer Rod Lethal quit.

Simon Barker, guitarist in the five-piece, said: “Well the power cut was an omen, it was a bit of a sign of things to come.

“When Rod left we were in a bad place. We didn’t know if it was something we could come back from.

“We had to cancel a whole tour and a festival date.”

Word soon spread that the Smoking Hearts were looking for a new vocalist, but before audition requests could be answered, the group discovered Ben Mills, who soon became the favourite for the job.

Simon said: “It’s like Alan Partridge, we’re bouncing back, everything seems to be on the up.

“We recruited Ben, having played with his other band in London a couple of years ago.

“We have been muscling down and Ben has had to learn all the old songs and play the new songs, which we will record early next year.”

The Smoking Hearts are playing their comeback show at Club 85 in Hitchin on December 18 for the Rogue Christmas Party.

Tickets are �6 on the door and �5 advance.