After a blistering set at Winterstorm festival at the end of last year there was no way I was missing tonight’s Graham Bonnet show in a much more intimate setting.
Support tonight and for the tour comes from Gin Annie. I have been looking forward to seeing this band for a while and, with this their first Scottish show, I was front and centre. There has been nothing but good things said about this band from my friends down south and after witnessing this show I can see why.
This band is tight and with between 50 and 60 gigs a year it is no wonder. A band whose beginnings were performing covers, they have stepped out of the shadows and with a song opener like “New Bad Habit” you have some straight forward, ass kicking Rock ’n’ Roll. I would love to say there is no nonsense, but this band just enjoy that stage too much. David Foster on vocals pulls out the cliché poses with ease and it is easy to get sucked into the atmosphere of their show.
“All I Want” is up next with an 80s intro of alternating riff and cymbal beat before going into a boggy, dirty rhythm. The whole band are up front and demanding your attention, your neck is bouncing around like a tennis match played between adrenaline junkies.
We move away from the debut EP and settle on single “Fallin”. This is steeped in the 90s with its G’n’R intro but it goes far heavier and got the crowd kicking into overdrive. This one is a belter. That lead onto “Next To Me” and brand new single(dropped that day) “Chains”. This one is a bit special. Its lazy opening and vocal harmony makes you think of a cowboy kicking back after a long cattle drive but it them comes at you like a bull.
They finished on “Born to Rock’n’Roll” and this is a homage to this journey us rockers are on and will never give up. It instantly clicks with the crowd and gets everyone singing. Gin Annie’s first trip north of the border was a success and I heard that the following shows up here went down just as well. Keep an eye out for this band as the name will start to be bounded about and I fully expect them to start making numerous festival appearances. Definitely ones to watch.
It is a fact that old rockers do not fade away. Class will always shine through. This week has seen Bruce Dickenson turn 60 and put on his best performance since 1988. Tonight is the turn of a 70 year old to show once rock is in your veins you can never let it go.
Graham Bonnet has been involved with some of the biggest bands and also sung on some of Rocks most recognisable tunes, so you know his set list will be filled with absolute gems and without further ado we get no bigger song than “All Night Long” which sees the crowd going bat shit crazy from the off, followed up with “Night Games” and the two punch combo had the audience reeling from the start and remaining punch drunk right till the end.
We jump ahead about 30 years to 2016 and “California Air” where Graham states it’s no good for someone with chest problems…well, it is not exactly Skegness is it? At this point I get to take in the band. Partner and bassist Beth-Ami Heavenstone is not there just to make the band look a hell of a lot prettier. No! That woman can thump out some noise. You have to stop and take some time on guitarist Kurt James. This man has some boots to fill when you look at who Graham has played with over the years with Malmsteen, Blackmore and Vai to name a few. Those names would have me shaking in a corner if I was asked to cover their parts but Kurt grabs the chance with both hands and even has fun doing it. He strutted around that stage like a bastard love child of Yngvie and Janick Gers. This man is the real deal, folks.
The songs of Alcatrazz were a reason a lot of people were here and first up is “Jet to Jet” and the wait to hear this live was well worth it. Add that to the fact there was Alcatrazz t-shirts on sale and we were all happy.
As well as the big bands we were treated to a good sample of his solo stuff (well, he managed to stay with himself without leaving or being thrown out). The latest album “Meanwhile, Back in the Garage” is a cracking album and “Starcarr Lane” is pure Rainbow/Bonnet. The chugging riffs, the solos and those vocals.
As we near the business end of the show the classics come thick and fast, we hit the short lived MSG era with “Assault Attack” and it is sublime and finally Scotland will get to see the three singer Schenker show later this year.
Next we have a double whammy from writer Russ Ballad in “The Mirror Lies” and “Since You Been Gone”, a man who has been with Graham for a very long time and has given him his finest moments. He is also the man who wrote one of my all-time favourite songs in Voices (go check that out).
That leaves us with “Lost in Hollywood” and what a last goodbye. This was excellent and tonight it was confirmed that this man is no fluke. He may have been a bit of an outcast in the 80s with his short hair and aviators but he has musically outlived a massive percentage of those bands and with a show like this it is no wonder.
I watched a living legend tonight, a man who has lost none of his voice, his charisma or his rock god status…yes, I was a bit starstruck.
Images and words Ritchie Birnie